October 20, 2004
HUD EXPANDS NATIVE AMERICAN HOME LOAN PROGRAM
Seminole Tribe of Florida First to Use New Guidelines
WASHINGTON - The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development has expanded a guaranteed loan program that will allow tribes to increase the number of Native American homeowners beyond reservations. Tribal housing agencies can now designate wider regions as "Indian area" - meaning tribes can go beyond reservation borders to assist tribe members under this program. This will provide greater opportunity for banks and other lenders to make mortgage loans to Native Americans.
The Seminole Tribe of Florida is the first to get HUD approval under the new Section 184 Loan Guarantee program guidelines. Recently, HUD Assistant Secretary Michael Liu approved the Seminoles resolution that designates the entire state of Florida as its Indian area for HUD's Section 184 Program.
The Seminole Tribe governs the Hollywood, Big Cypress, Brighton, Immokalee and Tampa Reservations. The reservations comprise approximately 166 square miles of land scattered throughout six south and central Florida counties: Broward, Collier, Glades, Hendry, Hillsborough, and Palm Beach. This will give the Seminoles greater appeal to local lenders and provide more mortgage loans to its members under the Section 184 program.
"This program has already helped thousands of Indian families purchase or rehabilitate their existing homes," said Liu, who heads-up HUD's Office of Public and Indian Housing. "This revision opens the program to many, many more Indian families and is another step towards increasing homeownership for more Americans."
Historically, Indian tribes participating in the program were limited to purchase homes on land owned by the tribe, usually known as "trust" or "restricted lands." Therefore, Native American homeownership opportunities remained mainly on reservations. This can change using the new Section 184 guidelines.
Under the new guidelines, if a tribe or tribal housing authority submits to HUD documentation and clear and convincing evidence that the tribe has a historical connection to the area or tribal members reside in these areas, these entities could provide homeownership opportunities beyond the reservations.
HUD's Section 184 Loan Guarantee program, created in 1992, was established to address the lack of mortgage lending for Native Americans and designed to give Native American families the opportunity to purchase their own homes. Since 1995, when HUD guaranteed its first loan, there have been nearly 2,000 loans guaranteed with a dollar-value of approximately $191 million. The volume of loans has more than doubled within the last year.
The Section 184 program provides a 100 percent guarantee for mortgages on Indian lands, enabling private sector lenders to make mortgage loans to eligible Natives American families, tribes and tribal housing entities that are purchasing homes. The program can also be used to rehabilitate existing homes, build new homes and refinance higher interest rate loans.
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.
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