South Dakota Native Homeownership Coalition
Over the past year, Homeownership Education Resource Organization (HERO), an affiliate of the South Dakota Housing Development Authority (SDHDA) that supports the delivery of unified home buyer education throughout the state, has tripled its certified Native American partners to include six organizations that have served 310 aspiring homeowners. In addition, two more Native organizations are currently undergoing the Homeownership Education Resource Organization certification process.
According to Mary Stewart who coordinates Homeownership Education Resource Organization, “Once those two organizations complete their certification, we will have partners on the Pine Ridge, Cheyenne River, Rosebud, and Lake Traverse Reservations. We’re pleased to see this progression.”
Although Homeownership Education Resource Organization began outreach to Native communities in 2016, only two Native organizations became partners.
“After those first two, we weren’t getting much response. We had some off-reservation partners partially serving Native communities, but there was a disconnect,” says Stewart.
Stewart credits the recent increase in Native partners to a collaborative effort between South Dakota Housing Development Authority, the South Dakota Native Homeownership Coalition (Coalition), and Freddie Mac. With help from Freddie Mac, Homeownership Education Resource Organization, South Dakota Housing Development Authority, and the Coalition launched an outreach campaign in Native communities in 2018.
“The Coalition helped with contacts and connections. They were able to spark an interest,” says Stewart.
As a result, over 20 practitioners from Native organizations attended a Homeownership Education Resource Organization orientation session and then became certified home buyer education instructors. Some of them have been approved as Homeownership Education Resource Organization partners, which opened up a reimbursement-based funding source to support the delivery of their home buyer education classes.
"I love Homeownership Education Resource Organization because it allows us to enhance our home ownership services. It's been a great way to leverage and grow our home buyer readiness program," said Sharon Vogel, Executive Director of the Cheyenne River Housing Authority.
Cheyenne River Housing Authority was one of the first Native organizations to become a Homeownership Education Resource Organization partner. Vogel explains that as a result of the partnership they have been able to rent a better training space more conducive to learning and provide graduates with incentives, which has increased retention rates and referrals.
In the coming year, Homeownership Education Resource Organization will continue its efforts to certify home buyer educators and increase the number of partners in South Dakota’s Native communities.
“We’re glad to be playing a part in this initiative that is extending home buyer education into Native communities,” said Simone Beaty, Product Development Director for Freddie Mac’s Single-Family Business.
As part of their Duty to Serve plan, Freddie Mac established a Memorandum of Understanding with Homeownership Education Resource Organization to expand its services to reservation-based organizations.
About the South Dakota Native Homeownership Coalition
The South Dakota Native Homeownership Coalition was born out of a need to expand home ownership opportunities for Native Americans in the state of South Dakota. Created in 2013, the Coalition is a diverse group of agencies, institutions, and organizations that works to increase home ownership opportunities for South Dakota’s Native people to build strong and healthy communities. Its growing group of stakeholders includes approximately 75 representatives of South Dakota’s tribes, federal and state agencies, tribally designated housing entities (TDHEs), nonprofit organizations, housing developers, lenders, and community development financial institutions.
The South Dakota Native Homeownership Coalition works to increase Native home ownership rates by strategically leveraging knowledge and resources among stakeholders and other key entities. More information about the Coalition can be found at www.sdnativehomeownershipcoalition.org.