|HUD No. 00-200|
|Further Information:||For Release|
|In the Washington, DC area: 202/708-0685||Thursday|
|Or contact your local HUD office||August 3, 2000|
CUOMO RELEASES ONE-YEAR REPORT ON PINE RIDGE IMPROVEMENTS
PINE RIDGE, SOUTH DAKOTA - U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Secretary Andrew Cuomo today returned to the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation to release a one-year progress report that details improvements on the reservation in housing, education opportunities and facilities, and economic development. The improvements are a result of the "Shared Visions Summit," a public/private partnership launched last year by President Clinton.
Joining Cuomo on releasing the report at the reservation, home to the Oglala Sioux Tribe, were U.S. Department of Agriculture Deputy Secretary Richard Rominger and officials from the Department of Defense.
The report found that the partnership has resulted in:
- Increased mortgage lending on the reservation
- Rehabilitation and construction of homes
- Improved education facilities
- Corporate commitments to the reservation.
- Economic development opportunities
- Educational opportunities
- Corporate commitments at Pine Ridge and throughout Indian country
Cuomo met with Paul Iron Cloud, Executive Director of the Oglala Lakota Housing Authority, Roger Campbell, Executive Director of the Oglala Sioux Tribe Partnership for Housing. and representatives of Wells Fargo Home Mortgage.
Robert Skjonsberg, Program Consultant for Wells Fargo Home Mortgage said, "On behalf of Wells Fargo, we are excited and honored to be involved with this historic initiative on Pine Ridge. We would like to thank the Oglala Sioux Tribe, OST Partnership for Housing and Secretary Cuomo for setting the format for future housing development in Indian Country. We look forward to developing additional partnerships and providing our Native American customers with improved access to private mortgage capital."
In August 1998, Tribal leaders invited Cuomo to visit Pine Ridge to view first-hand the critical needs of tribal members. What Cuomo found bordered on conditions in the Third World. There was little economic activity on the reservation, which was not eligible to even apply for HUD's economic development funds. Also, there was virtually no mortgage lending on the reservation, and only one resident had been able to build a home using a HUD 184 loan.
In July 1999, President Clinton joined Cuomo, Agriculture Secretary Dan Glickman, federal and Congressional representatives, Tribal leaders from across the nation and non-profit and private partners for the kick-off of the "Shared Visions Summit," to discuss what help could be provided not only to the Pine Ridge Reservation, but throughout all Indian country.
Following the President's intervention, a not-for-profit "Oglala Sioux Tribe Partnership for Housing" was established that now makes the region eligible to apply for HUD economic development funding. Now, 17 Pine Ridge residents have secured 184 loans, and more than 80 others have been pre-approved. No other reservation comes close to those numbers for families on their reservation.
Shannon County, site of the reservation, is consistently ranked as the poorest county in the nation. The unemployment rate exceeds 70 percent. Few commercial businesses operate on the reservation, which is second only to the Navajo Nation in size.
According to Cuomo, "the challenge is to expand our success to the rest of Indian Country. "If we can make our innovative programs work here -- where some of the most difficult conditions exist -- we should be able to make it work virtually anywhere."
The report is accessible on the web
at Pineridge and available via fax upon request.