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Second Title VI loan three times size of first

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ROCK HILL, S.C. - In another indication of the potential of the U.S. government's Title VI program to make a dent in the American Indian housing problem, the second loan in the program has come in at three times the amount of the first.

A $5.3 million loan has been made by First Union Corp. of Charlotte, N.C., to develop 120 units of affordable housing on the Catawba Indian Reservation here.

The money will finance 65 single-family houses, 25 "cottage" units, and 30 apartments to be built at the end of Sturgis Road, just outside Rock Hill.

Eventually, three more developments in the Green Earth project are planned by Iswa Development Corp., whose chairman is Carson Blue, secretary/treasurer of the tribe. Offices and retail space, social services and recreational areas are planned. Iswa says the units will be built using sustainable development techniques to protect the Catawba River, and will incorporate energy-efficient designs.

The first Title VI loan, $1.7 million, was made earlier this year by First National Bank of Anchorage, Alaska, to finance eight units of housing in Mountain Village for the Asa'carsarmiut tribe.

More than $100 million in guarantee authority is available through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development in the Title VI program, named after a provision in Title VI of the Native American Housing and Self Determination Act of 1996.

With the two loans approved by HUD so far, just $7 million of that authority has been tapped. President Clinton this month signed into law a $6 million appropriation to provide loan guarantees under Title VI for Fiscal Year 2001, which began Oct. 1. That funding was level with FY 2000. HUD guarantees repayment of 95 percent of a Title VI loan, with the tribe guaranteeing 5 percent, typically by placing a letter of credit or a deposit in that amount with the lending institution.

Tribes can obtain loans for up to five times of the yearly amount they receive for "additional housing need" under the self-determination act. Since the total act funding to tribes is currently $650 million (and a sizable percentage of that is for "additional need"), Title VI is a potential billion-dollar-plus financing source for Indian housing.

Indian Country Today previously reported the Lac Courte Oreilles tribe of Wisconsin, the Pojoaque Housing Authority of New Mexico and the Northern Arapaho Tribe in Wyoming are said to be actively pursuing Title VI funding. The loan farthest along is believed to be a $1.6 million financing for a 40-unit housing complex in Heyward, Wis., for the Lac Courte Oreilles tribe.

Other tribes or tribally-designated housing entities said to be looking into Title VI loans are the Jicarilla Apache tribe of New Mexico and the Rosebud (S.D.) Housing Authority.