September 29, 2004
FEDERAL AGENCIES FORM HISTORIC PARTNERSHIP TO INCREASE HOMEOWNERSHIP OPPORTUNITIES FOR NATIVE AMERICANS
HUD, Agriculture, Interior Sign Agreement
WASHINGTON - For the first time in history, three federal agencies have agreed to join forces to address housing conditions of American Indians and Alaska Natives. HUD Assistant Secretary Michael Liu signed an agreement with top officials from the Department of Agriculture and Department of Interior to combine resources to improve housing and homeownership opportunities for American Indians and Alaska Natives.
"With the recent opening of the new National Museum of the American Indian in the Nation's capital, I am pleased to add this partnership to America's tribute to Native Americans," said Liu, who signed the document today at the annual conference of the Affiliated Tribes of Northwest Indians in Polson, Mont. "I and my colleagues are proud to be part of this agreement that will help more Native Americans become homeowners."
Liu, who heads up HUD's Office of Public and Indian Housing, added his signature to the Memorandum of Understanding to that of Gilbert G. Gonzales Jr., Acting Under Secretary for the Department of Agriculture's Office of Rural Development and David W. Anderson, Assistant Secretary for the Department of Interior's Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA).
"Under the MOU each agency commits to work together to remove the barriers that make the homeownership process more difficult in Indian Country. Each agency will use its in-house processes and programs to improve assistance to American Indians and Alaska Natives to develop and operate affordable housing on trust or restricted lands and reservations. For example, BIA is in the process of implementing an automated system, which will expedite Title Status Reports (TSR), which is important documentation that lenders require before a family can obtain a home loan. In the meantime, BIA agrees to use its best efforts to produce a TSR within 30 days upon a request.
American Indians and Alaska Natives communities have significant needs for housing that cannot be financed with their own resources. The Agencies share a common goal to assist tribes in improving their living environment by creating more quality housing.
For example, HUD will use its two loan guarantee programs - Section 184 and Title VI - to accomplish this goal. The Section 184 Loan Guarantee Program is designed to give Native American families the opportunity to own their own homes, and Title VI provides the guaranteed loan so tribes can increase the amount of affordable housing in their communities.
Specifically, the Section 184 program was created in 1992 to address the lack of mortgage lending for Native Americans. Indian lands are typically held in trust, complicating the ability of lenders to secure their interest in a mortgage. The Section 184 program guarantees mortgages on Indian lands, enabling private sector lenders to make mortgage loans to eligible borrowers which include Natives American families, tribes and Indian Housing Authorities who are purchasing homes located in Indian Country. The program can also be used to rehabilitate existing homes, build new homes and refinance higher interest rate loans. Since 1995, when HUD guaranteed its first loan, there have been 1,938 loans guaranteed with a dollar-value of nearly $191 million.
Liu also told the conferees that HUD issued guidance today on procedures tribes can use to designate its Indian area under the Section 184 program.
Other specific goals in the MOU include:
- To work together, and with tribes and their TDHEs, to provide housing development and related housing assistance to all sectors of the Indian communities, including those at the lowest income level. Assistance shall be provided within the authorities and resources available to each Agency.
- To interact between the Agencies, in conjunction with tribal development of comprehensive affordable housing plans, to cover all proposed phases of the entire project while minimizing duplication of effort and increasing the efficiency of project planning throughout the entire process.
- To further enhance the partnership between the Agencies, each will provide the other access to data as mutually agreed upon. The sharing of this data will assist the Agencies to meet the needs of the tribes more effectively and efficiently.
HUD is the nation's housing agency committed to increasing homeownership, particularly among minorities; creating affordable housing opportunities for low-income Americans; and supporting the homeless, elderly, people with disabilities and people living with AIDS. The Department also promotes economic and community development as well as enforces the nation's fair housing laws. More information about HUD and its programs is available on the Internet and espanol.hud.gov.