Native American Mortgages White Paper

Exploring the Challenges and Opportunities for Mortgage Finance in Indian Country

This report, Exploring the Challenges and Opportunities for Mortgage Finance in Indian Country, examines mortgage lending to American Indian and Alaska Natives particularly activity on federally recognized reservation lands (“reservations”). The analysis touches on the historic and social factors that have helped create the constrained mortgage lending environment on reservation lands. In addition to barriers like geographic isolation, economic distress, and mistrust, which are often found in rural areas, these lands have a nonstandard land ownership situation and an extra layer of federal oversight, as well. A review of mortgage lending data for Native American borrowers confirms activity is constrained on reservations. Such activity includes low origination rates, high denial rates, and a high proportion of loans made for manufactured homes.

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Sponsored by The Wells Fargo Housing Foundation.

Native American Creative Placemaking

Native American Creative Placemaking

That “Placemaking was always known to Native Americans” undergirds a new “Native American Creative Placemaking” report from HAC. The report examines a handful of established Native American creative placemaking efforts while offering a first of its kind interactive map of Native American creative placemaking projects. The paper also notes funding sources and emphasizes that placemaking “offers Native people on opportunity to reconnect with their traditional ways of life” as an antidote to injustices including forced assimilation, trauma in boarding schools, and extreme poverty.The paper encourages tribal leaders to establish a voice for Native Nations in placemaking efforts in the United States.

In 2016-2017, HAC took on a National Endowment for the Arts funded creative placemaking partnership with bcWORKSHOP aimed at sharing placemaking resources with HAC’s rural partners across the country.

Sponsored by The Wells Fargo Housing Foundation.

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Soldier’s Home: A Closer Look at the Department of Veteran Affairs’ (VA) Home Loan Program

This report provides a descriptive analysis of the VA home loan program between 2005 and 2014. The analysis provides an overview of the VA loan program, its trends, borrowers, and lenders. The findings highlight the growing role of VA loans in home finance markets since the beginning of the Great Recession. VA loans represented approximately 9 percent of all mortgage lending activity in 2014, up from less than 2 percent in 2005. The lenders originated at least one VA loan in 95 percent of all counties during the 2012 to 2014 period.

During this time, refinance loans came to represent a majority of VA lending for three straight years (2012-2014) because of historically low interest rates. VA origination rates are consistently high for minority home purchase loans, when compared to conventional home purchase loans, even as default rates are said to be low, which may, at least in part, reflect the programs’ approach. Private mortgage companies and large volume lenders play a big role in the market, with program lender requirements possibly limiting small lender involvement. As long as the program can adapt to future changes, such as a smaller and more diverse veteran population and an increased importance of internet access, the VA loan products will continue to be a source of high quality, affordable housing finance for many veterans and their families.

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Aging Veterans in the United States

A snapshot of older veterans and their social, economic, and housing characteristics.

To better understand and inform strategies and policies for America’s aging veterans, the Housing Assistance Council has published Aging Veterans in the United States an analysis of data describing the older veteran population.

The United States is on the cusp of an extensive and far-reaching demographic transformation as the senior population is expected to nearly double by 2050. This is similarly the case for the veteran segment of the population who make up about 9 percent of the U.S. population. A large and growing proportion of this veteran population is composed of those age 55 and over, “older” Americans. As this group grows older, it is important to consider their unique characteristics and issues, which include health problems and physical limitations associated with aging. A rapidly aging population will significantly impact nearly all aspects of the nation’s social, economic, and housing systems.

Housing an Aging Rural America: Rural Seniors and Their Homes

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Ensuring seniors have access to safe, secure affordable housing in a rapidly aging rural America

The United States is on the cusp of an extensive and far-reaching demographic transformation as the senior population is expected to more than double in the next 40 years. Rural America is “older” than the nation as a whole and more than one-quarter of all seniors live in rural and small town areas, and a rapidly aging population will significantly impact nearly all aspects of the nation’s social, economic, and housing systems. Most seniors wish to remain and age in their homes as long as possible, but rural elders are increasingly experiencing challenges with housing affordability and quality. These challenges point to an underlying gap in housing options and availabilities. With the scope and magnitude of the looming demographic shift of seniors, rural communities will need to develop a range of housing options available to seniors such as more rental housing, rehabilitation and repair programs, housing with services, and assisted living. These options not only enhance the lives of seniors but are fiscally prudent measures that are more cost effective than long-term care options.

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Rural Veterans Resource Guide

The report contains program sheets that describe various programs and initiatives available for veterans as well as eligibility requirements and additional resources for each program. Keywords are provided to better help orient the guide. Each keyword can be found at the back of the report with a list of corresponding programs and their page numbers within the guide. HAC’s Veteran Resource Guide aims to provide insights into how to better utilize available resources. Knowing where to refer veterans to for needed services is critical in ensuring that veterans receive the services that will enable them to remain in safe, secure housing.






From Service to Shelter: Housing Veterans in Rural America

No veteran who has risked his or her life to protect our homes should return to find that they are not able have their own. For their sacrifice, it is imperative that we ensure our veterans have access to safe, affordable, and secure housing. This can be particularly challenging in rural America due to vast geographies, limited resources, and less social service infrastructure. The overall demographic picture of veterans will undergo major shifts in the coming years. As two wars overseas wind down, more veterans will be coming home. Returning to all corners of our nation, they will have housing needs to be addressed. The demographic changes associated with the baby boom generation and the overall graying of America will also shape veterans housing needs. The aging veteran population will have its own unique challenges. Ensuring that their housing needs are met is the least we can do to thank them for their service to this country.

Housing Conditions for Rural Farmworkers

Housing Conditions for Rural Farmworkers

More than 1 million people work harvesting fields, farms, and orchards in the United States. Farmworkers, who are often ethnic minorities or immigrants, earn low wages and experience working conditions that hinder their ability to access affordable and quality housing. Farmworker housing conditions are further exacerbated by legal, cultural, and geographic circumstances that often keep this population outside of the mainstream and contribute to their economic marginalization.

Updated September 2013

Conducting Homeless Counts on Native American Lands – A Toolkit

Executive Summary

Homelessness in rural areas can be difficult to address. Small spread-out populations make homeless counts difficult to accurately conduct in rural communities. However, these counts are often critical to effectively ensure that rural communities receive the support necessary to assist homeless persons in securing safe, permanent housing. This difficulty is further compounded in rural communities on American Indian, Alaska Native, and Hawaiian Home Land (AIANHH) lands. Issues surrounding tribal mistrust of the federal government, a lack of understanding of tribal sovereignty and diversity among Indian nations by outside entities, cultural competencies, and legal complexities associated with tribal lands create additional challenges to conducting an accurate count. Furthermore, situations of people in need on Native American lands often do not fit federal definitions of homelessness, which increases the difficulty in accessing funding. As a result, homelessness is often under or inaccurately counted and populations remain grossly underserved.

To address the aforementioned concerns, AIANHH communities need to be able to conduct accurate homeless counts internally. This flexible toolkit highlights steps, tools, and methods that can be used to complete an accurate homeless count on AIANHH lands. The toolkit is based upon past research as well as interviews with key stakeholders in the field. The toolkit is organized around four critical steps:

  1. Outreach and engagement on AIANHH lands
  2. Survey planning and implementation
  3. Partnering with researchers and intermediary organizations
  4. Funding the project

Two case studies are included to provide in-depth pictures of how two tribal communities, the Fond du Lac band of Lake Superior Chippewa in Minnesota and the Turtle Mountain band of Chippewa in North Dakota, approached a housing and homeless needs assessment on their reservations.

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Rural Reentry: Housing Options and Obstacles for Ex-Offenders

Rural Reentry: Housing Options and Obstacles for Ex-Offenders
December 2011, 54 pages, ISBN: 978-1-58064-173-9

The United States incarcerates more people than any other country in the world and, in 2007, the national prison population surpassed 1.5 million individuals (PEW, 2008). The massive explosion of the nation’s prison population has largely occurred in the past 20 years, tripling from the 585,084 individuals incarcerated in 1987. As of 2009, 1 in 31 Americans is in prison, jail, or otherwise under the supervision of probation or parole (PEW, 2009). As incarceration rates continue to increase exponentially, the number of ex-offenders who return home looking to reintegrate themselves into society continues to rise as well. As 95 percent of incarcerated persons will eventually be released, the community challenges of managing the needs of ex-offenders are becoming overwhelming (CRJ, 2001).

Much of the research and policy on the reintegration of formerly incarcerated persons discusses the issue through an urban perspective where large numbers of ex-offenders are densely concentrated and there is a critical mass of formerly incarcerated persons in need that can sustain various creative, high density housing options. The dynamics of a rural environment, however, pose different challenges and opportunities for the ex-offenders and reentry housing practitioners. Growing numbers of formerly incarcerated persons are returning home to rural communities that may lack the resources or tools to adequately meet demand. Rural reentry service networks may be loosely formed, incomplete or nonexistent depending on the region. This report serves as a probe into the burgeoning, complex topic of rural reentry, attempting to better understand the rural environment, its housing providers, and the ex-offenders who call it home.