|HUD No. 00-286|
|Further Information:||For Release|
|In the Washington, DC area: 202/708-0685||Friday|
|Or contact your local HUD office||October 13, 2000|
HUD, TREASURY EXPAND ACCESS TO CAPITAL IN INDIAN COUNTRY
SANTO DOMINGO PUEBLO, NM Ė Native Americans will now find it easier to buy homes on tribal land, thanks to extensive changes in federal lending policies announced today by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the U.S. Department of the Treasury.
HUD Secretary Andrew Cuomo and Treasury Secretary Lawrence H. Summers unveiled a report today detailing a series of revisions to streamline how Native Americans apply for, qualify for, and secure mortgages. Cuomo and Summers issued the report during a trip through New Mexico Indian Country.
"The bottom line is we are significantly improving Native Americansí access to mortgage capital," Cuomo said. "Thanks to these changes, buying a home on tribal land can be more than just a dream; it can become reality."
"It takes a village to raise a child, but it takes capital to raise a village," Summers said. "Making access to capital universal is the central challenge of the 21st century."
"We appreciate Secretary Cuomo's continued commitment to Indian Country, and we're happy that he brought Secretary Summers, one of the most influential members of President Clinton's cabinet, to listen to and understand the critical housing finance needs of our communities," Santo Domingo Governor Tony Tortalita said.
For more than two years HUD and the Treasury Department have led a coordinated response to a 1998 presidential directive to streamline the mortgage lending process in Indian Country. To achieve the Presidentís objective, the two departments convened a task force involving nearly 140 tribal, private, federal, state and local partners. A report on the task forceís work is being delivered to the President today.
Thus far, the Task Force has implemented key suggested reforms, including:
- launched two pilot "One Stop" mortgage centers, at the Navajo Nation in Arizona and the Oglala Sioux Reservation in Pine Ridge, South Dakota;
- developed a standard lease that will be accepted by all federal agencies as well as adopted by private lenders to expand the availability of loans in Indian Country;
- created a model code, including standard procedures governing liens, evictions and foreclosures in federally sponsored loan programs;
- established training programs about federally sponsored loan programs for borrowers and lenders;
- streamlined the process for approving tribesí participation in federally sponsored loan programs;
- revised the Federal Housing Administrationís handbook concerning appraisals of tribal lands held in trust by the U.S. government; and,
- produced the brochure, Shared Visions: Guide to Creating a Nonprofit Homeownership Entity, which provides step-by-step instructions for tribes to use in creating a one-stop mortgage information center.
The "One Stop" mortgage center pilot sites have confirmed the value of the information centers concept. In South Dakota, for example, the Oglala Sioux Tribe Partnership for Housing created a homebuyer program in which almost 200 tribal members participated in credit counseling and another 82 individuals have been pre-qualified for loans through HUDís Section 184 Indian Loan Guarantee Program. The program offers a federal guarantee to private lenders for home loans made to tribal members, tribes and Indian Housing Authorities on tribal and individual allotted trust lands and lands in Indian areas. Some 775 loans have been guaranteed under the program, which began in 1994.
"Change has come slowly to our lands and the Navajo people have suffered because of it," Edward T. Begay, speaker, Navajo Nation Council said. "These changes will expand homeownership opportunities for Navajo people. The Navajo Nation has a lot to benefit from if the changes are implemented in a timely fashion. I look forward to continuing a close and respectful working relationship with HUD and other federal agencies on community development and housing issues."
"The ĎOne Stop Mortgage Shopí concept epitomizes our vision for true partnerships and mutual respect," Robert Skjonsberg from Wells Fargo Home Mortgage said. "We have a special relationship with the Oglala Sioux Tribe Partnership for Housing in Pine Ridge. Together, we have made private sector financing a reality for the Oglala Lakota. We are committed to providing all Americans, including the first Americans, with improved access to private sector financing and we are excited about the opportunity to expand these types of partnerships in New Mexico and throughout Indian Country."
"These initiatives will help Native American communities take full advantage of the nationís robust economy," Summers said.
"By making the mortgage process more user-friendly and accessible to Native Americans and Alaskan Natives, as well as more attractive to private lenders, we plan to revolutionize homeownership in Indian Country," Cuomo said. "Never before has there been such an integrated effort involving HUD, Treasury, tribal governments and the private sector to raise Native American homeownership rates."
Homeownership in Indian Country is historically low. Though nearly 67 percent of Americans now own their homes, that number is less than 33 percent for Native Americans. Higher lender transaction costs, higher infrastructure costs and meager savings combined with a lack of credit history contribute to the low homeownership rate.
While in Santo Domingo, Cuomo and Summers also participated in a ribbon-cutting ceremony to celebrate the completion of an Indian housing development financed by the Low Income Housing Tax Credit program. The development contains 20 new rental units, and is the first housing development built on New Mexico Pueblo land using the tax credits.