Native American tribes assist and develop entry to homeownership

The recent rapid escalation in home prices and interest rates is presenting further challenges to first-time, low- to moderate-income and minority homebuyers, making the goal of homeownership less attainable. 

When properly structured and administered, however, down payment assistance programs play a critical role in overcoming obstacles many of these homebuyers face and should be a key component of policy solutions to bridge the racial wealth gap. 

A significant part of the wealth gap stems from the substantially lower homeownership rates among Hispanic, African-American, Native American, and Asian individuals, as compared to white non-Hispanic individuals. 

Our Native American tribal organizations — the Cedar Band of Paiutes, the Lower Brule Sioux, and the Rosebud Sioux — have developed successful programs that responsibly help first-time, low- to- moderate-income, and minority homebuyers safely become homeowners through their down payment assistance programs. 

Each of our housing finance agencies are governmental entities whose mission is to support affordable homeownership, but without the use of taxpayer dollars. Our down payment assistance programs are privately funded.

In working with our lender-partners, our HFAs are able to offer streamlined products and programs, including having one set of requirements that originators can more easily operationalize across their mortgage platforms nationwide. This enables lenders to more actively participate in responsibly expanding access to homeownership to these underserved communities.

Because of the structure of each of our programs, the default rates on the Federal Housing Administration-insured loans on which we provide down payment assistance are lower for the same government program where the borrowers have been assisted by family friends or relatives. Our products and programs have been carefully designed to ensure that our borrowers remain successful homeowners.

Many of our programs are wrapped with customer support services, which ensure that our borrowers fully understand the risks and responsibilities of homeownership. Moreover, ongoing counseling services are often provided in order to ensure that our borrowers remain successful homeowners. 

Neither our tribes nor our lender partners benefit when homeowners default or, worse, face foreclosure. We understand that those occurrences hurt everyone — the homeowner and their family, the neighborhood and community in which they live, and our tribes. 

Although the current real estate environment is more challenging, our housing finance agencies remain committed to our core mission and are working to design responsible products and programs that will help close that affordability gap.

The government can assist in these developments by collecting a more granular level of data from each of the 1800-plus housing finance agencies, which can be done easily. A more detailed explanation of our agencies’ proposals can be reviewed in the testimony we submitted for the Record at the House Financial Services Committee June 29 hearing. A link to our joint testimony can be found here.

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