Submitted by Dina Horwedel, American Indian College Fund
Denver, Colo.—September 8, 2017– Home ownership, like education, are considered to be both an investment and part of the American dream. But these paths to a strong future have not always been accessible to American Indian people.
Home ownership has been problematic because not all lenders could or can provide loans for people living on reservations or federal trust lands.
As for higher education, federal government statistics show that only 13.8% of American Indians and Alaska Natives age 25 and older have a bachelor’s degree or higher, compared with nearly 30% for all other groups. Affordability is a major reason for this disparity.
But now thanks to 1st Tribal Lending, an administrator of a federal program called The Section 184 Indian Home Loan Guarantee Program, American Indian and Alaska Native families, Alaska Villages, Tribes, or Tribally Designated Housing Entities can access financing for properties both on and off Native lands. The program was enacted by the Office of Loan Guarantee within the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) Office of Native American Programs, which guarantees the Section 184 home mortgage loans made to Native Borrowers. Financing is available for new construction, rehabilitation, purchase of an existing home, or refinancing. This program makes it possible for lenders to serve Native Communities both on and off the reservation, helping to increase the marketability and value of Native assets and financially strengthen Native communities.
1st Tribal Lending has supported the American Indian College Fund (the College Fund), a national nonprofit which provides access to higher education for Native people, to get a college education, for more three years, giving a percentage of its closing costs to the College Fund. This year they announced they are renewing their commitment to Native higher education with a gift of $66,000.
“It’s a perfect match,” said Darkfeather Ancheta, HUD 184 Tribal Advocate/Outreach, of 1st Tribal Lending. We are a Native organization that helps Native people get into their homes, and if we can help the American Indian College Fund help Native people get an education, this also helps with economic development—it’s a perfect synergy.
It’s a huge help to Natives to support their education. I personally know people who are trying to finish their education that do not have the resources to pay for it. One tiny grant can make or break a student. We think supporting the College Fund is a wonderful opportunity because graduates will use their educations to get into a job, create a life, and help their communities. And once they take this step, we can help people finance their dream home,” Ancheta said. “When our customers benefit, we all benefit in our country.”
Robin Máxkii, a member of the Stockbridge-Munsee nation who graduated from Salish Kootenai College with a degree in psychology and is planning to earn her master’s degree in the fall, is one of many Native students 1st Tribal Lending has helped to support through the College Fund. Thanks to scholarship support, in addition to attending college Máxkii has been able to enjoy college-related activities such as serving internships with the National Science Foundation; an invitation to the White House, MIT, and Google; and she has appeared on the television series Codetrip Nation for students to discover technology opportunities as part of Roadtrip Nation.
Máxkii said, “Thanks to 1st Tribal Lending and the American Indian College Fund’s generous support, I am the first in my family to attend college. Growing up in a less privileged community has not only offered financial and academic challenges, but has also helped me realize the value of a college education. I consider myself extremely fortunate to have been and still be able to attend these institutions which wouldn’t be possible without the support of your organization. My educational pursuits would not be possible without generous support from scholarship sponsors like you. Thank you for enabling this opportunity!”