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Housing council unveils Web site for home buyers

WASHINGTON ñ The National American Indian Housing Council launched a Web site for Native home buyers at a Sept. 25 meeting on Capitol Hill.

One-stop home mortgage shops for low- to moderate-income groups have been in development for years. The new NAIHC resource will be more of a first stop for Native people and others who are ready to explore the process of owning a home.

ìThis Web site will guide Native American home buyers through basic considerations such as how much home they can afford, and steer them away from predatory lenders and toward their tribeís home buyer counselors,î NAIHC Chairman Marty Shuravloff said. The Web address is www.nativeamerican

homebuyer.com.

NAIHC is counting on the Web site as one more approach to raising the rate of home ownership among Native peoples. Cielo Gibson, chairman of the Web site steering committee and executive director of the Coeur díAlene Housing Authority, noted that the Native home ownership rate is the lowest among all minority groups. At 33 percent, it is less than half the national average, she added, citing General Accountability Office figures.

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Jacqueline Johnson, executive director of the National Congress of American Indians, also spoke at the launch. Drawing on an extensive background in Native housing, she said that the financial literacy it takes to participate in the home ownership process, as well as a basic understanding of what it means to own equity in a home, canít be taken for granted in Indian country. Subsidized federal housing programs and the lack of a secondary housing market in Indian country have left the whole concept of equity ñ value invested in a home that can be translated into small business loans, for example ñ out of account.

ìClearly, once we get a better handle on the value of equity ... home ownership brings, weíll have a new entrepreneurial environment in Indian country.î

The infrastructure of roads, water and sewer lines is also inferior or altogether absent in many places where Native people would otherwise buy homes, Johnson said. In parts of Alaska and elsewhere, she added, the cost of installing basic infrastructure to support habitable housing can run so high that homes are no longer affordable.

ìWe ask the question time and time again, ëWhat is it that it will take to address home ownership in Indian country?í ñ itís all of those things, and you build it tool by tool and piece by piece. And I really applaud NAIHCís effort to be able to put another tool in place [the new Web site] that will help us really attempt a changed role for home ownership.î

WASHINGTON ñ The National American Indian Housing Council launched a Web site for Native home buyers at a Sept. 25 meeting on Capitol Hill.One-stop home mortgage shops for low- to moderate-income groups have been in development for years. The new NAIHC resource will be more of a first stop for Native people and others who are ready to explore the process of owning a home.ìThis Web site will guide Native American home buyers through basic considerations such as how much home they can afford, and steer them away from predatory lenders and toward their tribeís home buyer counselors,î NAIHC Chairman Marty Shuravloff said. The Web address is www.nativeamericanhomebuyer.com.NAIHC is counting on the Web site as one more approach to raising the rate of home ownership among Native peoples. Cielo Gibson, chairman of the Web site steering committee and executive director of the Coeur díAlene Housing Authority, noted that the Native home ownership rate is the lowest among all minority groups. At 33 percent, it is less than half the national average, she added, citing General Accountability Office figures.Jacqueline Johnson, executive director of the National Congress of American Indians, also spoke at the launch. Drawing on an extensive background in Native housing, she said that the financial literacy it takes to participate in the home ownership process, as well as a basic understanding of what it means to own equity in a home, canít be taken for granted in Indian country. Subsidized federal housing programs and the lack of a secondary housing market in Indian country have left the whole concept of equity ñ value invested in a home that can be translated into small business loans, for example ñ out of account.ìClearly, once we get a better handle on the value of equity ... home ownership brings, weíll have a new entrepreneurial environment in Indian country.îThe infrastructure of roads, water and sewer lines is also inferior or altogether absent in many places where Native people would otherwise buy homes, Johnson said. In parts of Alaska and elsewhere, she added, the cost of installing basic infrastructure to support habitable housing can run so high that homes are no longer affordable.ìWe ask the question time and time again, ëWhat is it that it will take to address home ownership in Indian country?í ñ itís all of those things, and you build it tool by tool and piece by piece. And I really applaud NAIHCís effort to be able to put another tool in place [the new Web site] that will help us really attempt a changed role for home ownership.î