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Some Indians, Not Many, Earned Above $200,000

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How many American Indians will see their tax rates go up at the beginning of 2013?

It is impossible to tell, but here’s an interesting stat of some who may be in the crosshairs: 7,108 households on Native American lands had income of more than $200,000 during 2005 to 2009.

But six times that many households, 45,275, had income of under $10,000, according to a newly-released report by the Housing Assistance Corp. HAC, a rural housing nonprofit in Washington, DC, based its findings on tabulations of the federal American Community Survey estimates for 2005-2009.

The richest households on Native lands were 1.9 percent of a total of 382,048 households, while those in the direst poverty made up 11.9 percent of all households. An important caveat is that not all people living on Native lands are Native people.

Twenty-four percent of people living on Native lands were in poverty during those years, and 30 percent of children, HAC found.

The HAC report, Taking Stock, was released at the group’s biennial National Rural Housing Conference in DC. It found that 70.1 percent of housing on Native lands was owner occupied, with 29.9 percent rental units. Single-family houses comprised 71.1 percent of total housing stock, while 15.8 percent of units were manufactured housing.

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Of the total units, 20,121 or 5.3 percent lacked complete plumbing, 18,343 or 4.8 percent lacked a complete kitchen, and 40,099 or 10.5 percent lacked telephone service.

The “one percenters” on Indian land were just about exactly that. There were 2,974 houses worth more than $1 million, which was 1.1 percent of the total. But 20.8 percent (55,697) of housing on Indian land was valued at less than $50,000.

“Renting is less common on Native American lands than in the nation as a whole,” said HAC, which continued that even so, Indian lands suffer from a lack of rental units as “landlords do not get much return on their investment.”

As an example HAC cited 816 occupied rental properties on the Rosebud Sioux reservation in South Dakota in 2010. More than 400 individuals were on a waiting list.

Overcrowded houses were three times as common (8.8 percent versus 3 percent) on Indian lands as in the nation as a whole, HAC found.

HAC found that one American Indian home loan program, the HUD 184, has made more than 12,000 loan guarantees to private lenders for more than $1.8 billion in home finance to Indians. However, not all of that is on Native land. And it found “relatively low” the amount of Rural Housing Service section 502 loans among Indians.

“Of the more than 150,000 Section 502 loans [guaranteed and direct] made in fiscal year 2010, only 560 were made to Native American households and only 15 were made on tribal trust lands,” HAC reported.