10.29.19

Rounds, Smith Lead Bipartisan Effort to Improve Native American Lending Services at HUD, Help More Native Families Become Homeowners

WASHINGTON—U.S. Sens. Mike Rounds (R-S.D.) and Tina Smith (D-Minn.), members of the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs, today introduced the Native American Housing Affordability Act of 2019. The bipartisan legislation reforms the Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Section 184 Indian Home Loan Guarantee Program, which provides mortgage loans to Native Americans and Alaska Natives, by speeding up the loan processing time. Additional original cosponsors include U.S. Sens. John Thune (R-S.D.), John Tester (D-Mont.), Martha McSally (R-Ariz.) and Catherine Cortez-Masto (D-Nev.).

“Established in 1992, HUD’s Loan Guarantee Program has helped countless Native Americans in South Dakota and across the country realize their dreams of homeownership,” said Rounds. “Our legislation will help even more Native American families become homeowners by removing regulatory hurdles that too often delay loan processing. I thank my colleagues for joining me in this effort and look forward to working together to advance this legislation in the Senate.”  

“When you don’t have a home, it’s nearly impossible for other parts of your life to work. But right now, Native Americans who want to be homeowners too often face unnecessary regulatory obstacles,” said Sen. Smith, a member of both the Senate Indian Affairs and Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committees. “Our bipartisan bill to remove red tape that slows down the loan processing time is one step we can take to promote homeownership and create opportunity for Native communities.”

“Access to affordable housing is important to families and communities across the nation,” said Thune. “In an effort to facilitate additional affordable homeownership opportunities for Native American families, this legislation would improve the Indian Home Loan Guarantee Program by streamlining the loan guarantee process to encourage more lenders to participate in the program and provide additional mortgage financing opportunities to individuals and families on tribal trust land.” 

"Native American veterans made great sacrifices to keep this country safe, and they deserve to have a warm place to sleep when they return from service,” said Tester. “Unfortunately, far too often these folks return home from service without access to safe and affordable housing. This amendment would ensure that Native veterans have better access to stable housing, so that even in difficult times they don’t have to worry about having a place to call home.”

“If it takes months, or even years, for a Native American family to buy a home, the process is clearly broken,” said McSally. “Our bill improves HUD’s Loan Guarantee Program and cuts red tape that is stifling the ability for Native families to become homeowners and create more opportunities for their family.”

“Buying a home is an important step toward building wealth and security for one’s family. Yet this step is often delayed or denied for Native Americans seeking to purchase homes on Indian trust land,” said Senator Cortez Masto. “This legislation would temporarily bypass a backlog at the Bureau of Indian Affairs that prevents lenders from extending HUD-guaranteed loans to these individuals in a timely manner. I’ll continue working to ensure that families living in tribal communities have the same opportunities as any other family to become homeowners.”

“The HUD 184 Loan Guarantee Program has been instrumental in providing Native Americans better access to mortgage loans for over 25 years. However, the Program can still be improved, particularly for homeowners on trust lands. I applaud Senators Rounds and Smith for introducing the Native American Housing Affordability Act and look forward to working with Congress to find ways to improve the HUD 184 Program.” - Gary Cooper, Chairman of the Board of Directors of the National American Indian Housing Council (NAIHC) and Executive Director of the Housing Authority of the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma.

Background:

  • The HUD Section 184 program guarantees mortgage loans for Native American borrowers.
  • As part of the lending process, the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) provides title information about ownership of tribal land before HUD issues a certificate of guarantee.
  • However, because it can take the BIA months to produce trailing documents to HUD, many prospective buyers give up and abandon the process.
  • This legislation will speed up that process by allowing HUD to guarantee a loan without waiting for trailing documents from the BIA, as long as the lender indemnifies HUD.
  • It also issues a series of findings about the Section 184 program and requires HUD to report on efforts the government is making to accelerate the processing time for Section 184 lender applications, including why processing times are or are not improving.

###