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Obstacles, Solutions, and Self-Determination in Indian Housing Policy

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Spring 2015   


        Obstacles, Solutions, and Self-Determination in Indian Housing Policy
        Who Counts? Identifying Native American Populations
        Local Initiatives Promote Homeownership in Indian Country

Obstacles, Solutions, and Self-Determination in Indian Housing Policy


      • Indian Country — land under the jurisdiction of tribal governments — is composed of vastly different communities requiring multifaceted and locally relevant housing solutions. The United States has a legal trust obligation to promote the welfare of Native Americans in Indian Country, which the federal government fulfills through a self-determination framework.
      • The Native American Housing Assistance and Self-Determination Act (NAHASDA) of 1996 granted tribes the authority to determine the housing programs they will fund, the individuals served, and the delivery method for those programs. NAHASDA also requires the federal government to consult with tribes, including periodic negotiated rulemaking with tribal leaders.
      • The Helping Expedite and Advance Responsible Tribal Home Ownership (HEARTH) Act grants native nations control over land leasing, further empowering tribes to exercise their inherent sovereignty over tribal lands.

An apartment with solar panels along the roof.
The Coronado Park Senior Village, part of a larger multigenerational, mixed-income community, helps support local business in Eagle River, Alaska by locating housing within walking distance of shops and services. Ken Graham Photography
On the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota, in one of the poorest counties in the United States, many residents live in dilapidated mobile homes, homes without adequate insulation, homes with black mold, or even in tents and old cars because their actual homes are overcrowded.1 Although conditions in Pine Ridge are particularly dire, Native Americans nationwide are more likely to live in homes that are crowded, physically inadequate, and unaffordable when compared with the United States as a whole.2 A number of factors make improving housing conditions in Indian Country complicated, including remote locations, poor infrastructure, weak local economies, limited institutional capacities, and a complex and burdensome legal environment restricting the use of tribal land.3 Many tribal communities lack a developed housing and lending market, leaving them almost completely dependent on federal funding to address housing need.4 The United States government has a legal trust obligation to promote the welfare of Native Americans in Indian Country by supplying housing along with education and health services on reservations. This obligation stems from treaties signed with tribes and has been written into federal law. Over the past 50 years, the federal government has sought to fulfill its obligation through a policy framework of self-determination, allowing tribes the freedom to develop and implement programs based on and conducive to local conditions and preferences.5

Indian Country, the collective term for land under the jurisdiction of tribal governments, is composed of vastly different communities that require multifaceted and locally relevant housing solutions. Native Americans hail from more than 560 tribes representing a plethora of cultures with diverse histories, languages, religious beliefs, and traditions.6 More than 5 million individuals identify themselves as American Indian or Alaska Native (AIAN) alone or in combination with some other race, and roughly 48 percent of these individuals live in a tribal area or surrounding county.7 Communities range in size from the 20-acre Alturas Indian Rancheria in California to the 27,000 square-mile Navajo Nation spanning portions of Utah, Arizona, and New Mexico.8 The housing challenges of Native American communities are similarly diverse, encompassing urban, suburban, and rural environments and climates that range from the arid desert to the frozen tundra.9

A row of homes with mountains in the background.
Greater tribal control over housing decisions has allowed tribal governments to develop culturally and geographically relevant housing and more effectively address the needs of their constituents. Ken Graham Photography
This article examines persistent obstacles to developing quality, affordable housing in Indian Country, the design and implementation of federal housing policies — such as the Native American Housing Assistance and Self-Determination Act (NAHASDA) of 1996 and the Helping Expedite and Advance Responsible Tribal Home Ownership (HEARTH) Act of 2012 — that adhere to and respect the principle of self-determination, and tribal solutions and successes.

Housing Conditions and Constraints

Many Native American households experience severe housing needs; in 2010 testimony to the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs and the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, former HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan reported that 543,000 AIAN households had a severe housing need, defined as “living in conditions that are overcrowded, substandard, or cost-burdensome.”10 According to a 2013 Housing Assistance Council report, 4.8 percent of homes in Indian Country lacked complete kitchens and 5.3 percent lacked complete plumbing, significantly higher than the national rates of 0.07 percent and 0.05 percent, respectively.11 Furthermore, the National American Indian Housing Council (NAIHC) estimates that 70 percent of existing homes are in need of upgrades, some of them extensive.12

In 2006–10, 8.1 percent of AIAN households were crowded (having more than one person per room) compared with 3.1 percent of all households. In some Native American communities crowding rates are even higher; in some Alaskan counties, 22 percent of AIAN households are crowded.13 In South Dakota, the occupancy of a single Oglala Sioux Housing Authority unit often exceeds 12 to 15 persons, says Paul Iron Cloud, executive director of the Oglala Sioux Housing Authority.14 Crowding may reflect a cultural preference for living with or taking in extended family, but it is also attributed to an undercounted homeless population and a shortage of affordable housing. As many as 90,000 AIAN families may be homeless or under-housed, and estimates of the housing shortage range from 200,000 to 250,000 units.15

Underlying economic issues contribute to poor housing conditions. Russell Sossamon, executive director of the Housing Authority of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma, explains that “[t]he challenges to providing quality, affordable housing in Indian Country generally and within the Choctaw Nation specifically stem mostly from the broader overriding economic realities that occur in tribal communities.”16 Despite improvements in some tribal economies during the 1990s, many reservations are still economically depressed. Poor employment opportunities and high poverty — at 26 percent, the AIAN poverty rate is almost double the non-AIAN poverty rate — make affording housing difficult for many tribal families. As a result, nearly 40 percent of AIAN households were cost burdened in 2006–10, paying more than 30 percent of their income toward housing costs.17

Many tribes face difficulties developing housing because of the “unique challenges of their geography,” says Sami Jo Difuntorum, executive director of housing for the Confederated Tribes of Siletz Indians in Oregon and chair of NAIHC.18 Two of the most commonly identified barriers to housing development are the isolation of some reservations and insufficient infrastructure (such as road, water, and sewer systems), which add expense and delays to housing development. In Alaska, for example, building materials must often be shipped in by barge within a narrow timeframe — the construction season is no longer than four months — and any delivery delays can increase construction costs.19 The total development cost for a modest three-bedroom unit in Cook Inlet, Alaska increased 85 percent between 2003 and 2013 to $450,000, 56 percent more expensive than a similar unit for the Navajo in Arizona and double the cost of a similar unit for the Cherokee in Oklahoma.20 High development costs can be particularly challenging for small tribes; one-third of tribal grantees received less than $250,000 annually from HUD. Some tribes may be forced to save grants over several years to complete projects, whereas others pool funds with other small tribes, rotating development projects among the tribes through the creation of a joint tribally designated housing entity (TDHE).21

In addition to these physical challenges, the real and perceived financial characteristics of Native American borrowers make it difficult to create a lending market on reservations to support homeownership and finance new construction. A landmark 2001 study by the Community Development Financial Institutions Fund (CDFI Fund) found few lending institutions on or near reservations and identified 16 additional barriers to credit access, including residents’ poor credit histories, discrimination against and stereotyping of Native American borrowers, and a limited understanding of or experience with financial interactions among residents of Indian Country.22 In a study of the Montana Blackfeet, researchers found that homeownership among Native Americans was constrained by challenges similar to those experienced by other low-income individuals, such as a lack of mortgage financing, poor credit histories, and low incomes.23 Although income is an important factor, a 2008 study of homeownership rates on reservations in the Federal Reserve’s Ninth District found that income alone fails to fully explain lower Native American homeownership rates on the district’s reservations. The study found that other factors that could affect homeownership included housing quality (mobile homes are prevalent at some reservations with high homeownership rates), rates of crowding, and the amount of land available for development.24

Further constraining credit access and housing development in tribal lands are bureaucratic and legal obstacles unique to Indian Country. These obstacles include restrictions on the use of Indian land, federal delays in approving land leases, and fractionation (the division of ownership interest among multiple — sometimes hundreds — of descendants). Out of approximately 100 million acres of land controlled by tribes or tribal members, 56 million acres are held in trust for either a tribe or an individual. Unlike fee simple land, trust land cannot be alienated (owned by non-Indians), which makes using trust land as collateral for a mortgage nearly impossible and creates hurdles for tribes or tribal members seeking credit.25 With limited access to traditional forms of lending, many Native Americans are susceptible to subprime and predatory lending; according to a study analyzing Home Mortgage Disclosure Act data for 2002 to 2005, Native Americans borrowed money from the high-cost lending market more than twice as often as the white population.26

Self-Determination Framework

The United States fulfills its trust obligation to tribes through the self-determination framework, a policy change announced in President Nixon’s 1970 special message to Congress, “Recommendations for Indian Policy.” Self-determination is rooted in tribal sovereignty, the legal right of tribes to govern certain affairs, such as passing laws, taxing residents, and operating judicial courts. Through greater self-governance, self-determination empowers tribes to address a range of issues, such as education, economic development, and housing, in a culturally relevant manner.27 In 1975, Congress formally codified the change with the Indian Self-Determination and Education Assistance Act, which allowed tribes rather than federal officials to administer certain federal programs, such as the Housing Improvement Program funded by the U.S. Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA).28 According to Stephen Cornell, faculty associate with the Native Nations Institute for Leadership, Management, and Policy at the University of Arizona, Native American leaders pursued self-determination during the Civil Rights era, but their grievances differed from those of other minority groups in that they sought control over lands and internal affairs rather than asserting rights to resources such as housing, health care, and education.29

The framework grew out of the failure of previous Indian policies to encourage development on reservations. Under the Dawes Act of 1887, 90 million acres of tribal land was lost through sales to non-Indians, resulting in four types of land ownership in Indian Country (tribal trust land, individual trust land, fee simple land owned by Indians, and fee simple land owned by non-Indians) that continue to complicate development because of the different rules governing the use of each land type.30 In 1934, Congress passed the Indian Reorganization Act (IRA), which halted the sale of Indian land and allowed tribes that created constitutions based on federal regulations to take on some self-governance. Although criticized for applying a single constitutional model to all of Indian Country, IRA did advance the idea of tribal sovereignty by granting some self-governance and establish the trust obligation of the federal government.31 Congress reversed self-governance in the 1950s and began a policy of tribal termination through the “unilateral ending of the special relationship between tribes and the federal government.”32 Congress dissolved the reservations of five large tribes, terminated all tribes in four states, and extended state jurisdiction over several reservations that were not terminated.33 The policy of tribal termination ended with the rise of self-determination.

Unlike previous federal policies, self-determination has helped some tribes flourish both culturally and economically.34 For example, Native American real per capita income grew by 23.5 percent from 1990 to 2000 and by 10.5 percent from 2000 to 2010.35 Research from the Harvard Project on American Indian Economic Development (HPAIED) finds that self-determination “puts the development agenda in Indian hands” and “marries decisions and their consequences, leading to better decisions.”36 Under previous policies, those overseeing Indian Country were often non-Indians with little direct stake in the outcomes or consequences of the policies they enforced. Placing control in the hands of tribal members ensured that the ones making the decisions were the ones bearing the costs of failure, encouraging leaders to learn from their mistakes and develop more effective governing institutions. The practical sovereignty afforded by self-determination policies is a “necessary (but not sufficient) condition for reservation economic development.” Some tribes have succeeded within this framework by taking advantage of greater self-governance to more effectively run reservations and diversify their economies.37 For example, Ho-Chunk, Inc., the development arm of the Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska, operates more than 30 subsidiary corporations in sectors that include information technology, construction, government contracting, and retail in addition to gaming. The Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians has succeeded in virtually eliminating unemployment by building a strong manufacturing economy.38

A map of the United States showing the concentration of American Indian and Alaska Native Population.
The highest concentration of Native American populations can be found on reservations, such as Pine Ridge in South Dakota, and nonreservation tribal areas such as Eastern Oklahoma and parts of Alaska. Created by the Rural Assistance Center
Native American Housing Assistance and Self-Determination Act of 1996. Historically, federal housing policies did not “respond adequately to the diversity of housing conditions and needs in Indian Country,” according to a 1996 Urban Institute assessment of tribal housing, leading the authors to state that housing programs “must also accommodate the legitimate demands for self-determination made by Native American tribes as sovereign nations.”39 In 1996, Native Americans on a national commission established by Congress helped draft a new law, the Native American Housing Assistance and Self-Determination Act (NAHASDA) of 1996, as part of an effort to “evaluate alternative strategies for the development, management, and modernization of housing for Native Americans.”40 NAHASDA reorganized federal housing programs and simplified the system of funding affordable housing in Indian Country while respecting the principle of tribal self-governance. The act gave tribes the flexibility to allocate development funds to projects more relevant to tribal needs and moved away from previous “one-size-fits-all” approaches, says Rodger Boyd, deputy assistant secretary of HUD’s Office of Native American Programs (ONAP).41 In a 2010 U.S. Government Accountability Office survey of NAHASDA grantees, 90 percent of respondents reported that NAHASDA has helped tribes meet housing needs.42

Before NAHASDA, federally funded housing projects were developed through Indian Housing Authorities (IHAs). Many Native American leaders criticized IHAs for developing projects unsuited to conditions on reservations, such as those designed for urban environments or that disrupted traditional living patterns through “clustered housing.” These leaders also viewed IHAs as competing centers of power, which fostered distrust.43 Prior to NAHASDA, HUD administered five noncompetitive and nine competitive grant programs for tribes, which gave the federal government tremendous influence over tribal housing policy. This influence furthered a system that, according to HPAIED, encouraged tribal leaders to “focus on federal prerogatives, rules, and priorities rather than on the task of building solid economic policies and sound governments.”44

A pie chart showing the use of Indian Housing Block Grant Funds from 2008 to 2013.
Source: HUD’s FY2015 Congressional Budget Justifications.
NAHASDA granted tribes the authority to determine, independently of HUD, the housing programs they will fund, the individuals served, and the delivery method for those programs. NAHASDA replaced nine HUD programs with a single program, the Indian Housing Block Grant (IHBG) program, which provides funds to tribes or TDHEs based on a formula.45 According to Boyd, the noncompetitive formula levels the playing field and ensures that every eligible tribe receives funding on an annual basis.46 NAHASDA also recognized the federal government’s trust obligation in Indian Country, the “government-to-government” relationship between the United States and tribes, and the need to consult with tribes about changes to NAHASDA.47 The law requires HUD to periodically engage in negotiated rulemaking with tribal leaders when developing regulations that affect tribes and changing the IHBG funding formula. According to Todd Richardson, associate deputy assistant secretary of HUD’s Office of Policy Development and Research, tribes decided early on that any changes would be made by consensus, not just by the vote of a tribal majority.48

Tribal consultation, says Boyd, “is the essence of working with tribes on a government-to-government basis.”49 Through these negotiations, the tribes and HUD agreed to base funding on two criteria: the number of subsidized units before NAHASDA and the current need for assisted housing and affordable housing activities. The formula to calculate housing need and affordable housing activities is based on seven factors, including the size of the low-income population, housing quality, and the number of cost-burdened households. The formula divides the low-income population into four different income categories, which together have the greatest influence on funding allocation under the formula. Two additional significant factors in the formula are households that are in overcrowded units or that lack plumbing or kitchen facilities, and households with housing costs that exceed 50 percent.50

HUD Indian Housing Programs. IHBG is the largest program that ONAP administers in Indian Country. In 2014, most of the program’s funds (37%) were used to maintain housing built before NAHASDA. The development, acquisition, new construction, reconstruction, or rehabilitation of affordable housing is the second-largest use of funds (31%). Since its implementation in fiscal year 1998, NAHASDA has financed the construction of more than 36,000 affordable units and rehabilitated nearly 72,000 units.51 A 2009 evaluation of the IHBG program found that it has improved housing conditions for Native Americans residing in those units; 80 to 90 percent of surveyed households reported satisfaction with their housing, 60 to 80 percent rated their housing as excellent or good, and 60 percent reported that their IHBG-funded housing was less crowded than their previous residence.52

The tribes’ use of IHBG development funds indicates a preference for homeownership units over rental units. In its 2016 budget justification, HUD estimates that tribes will construct, acquire, or rehabilitate 4,415 homeownership units compared with 1,380 rental units; from 2003 to 2008, tribes built, acquired, or rehabilitated 3.5 times more homeownership units than rental units.53 According to Karen Diver, chairwoman for the Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa, many younger families “prefer owning for the same reasons everyone [else] does — to accomplish something and build equity.”54 Difuntorum explains that in addition to the stability and equity associated with homeownership, “there is a unique sense of ownership in the well-being of the community” because communities in Indian Country often consist of extended families.55 This preference for homeownership may also be a practical consideration; housing directors have noted that rental units, which require continual maintenance, obligate future NAHASDA funding. Homeownership, on the other hand, entails a one-time construction cost for the tribe.56 (For more information on tribal homeownership, see “Local Initiatives Promote Homeownership in Indian Country”.)

HUD administers three additional programs — the Indian Community Development Block Grant program (which funds a range of community development activities), the Tribal Housing Activities Loan Guarantee Program (Title VI), and the Section 184 Indian Home Loan Guarantee Program — that support housing in Indian Country. The loan guarantee programs are designed to help overcome lenders’ reluctance to extend credit. The Section 184 program provides a 100 percent federal guarantee on loans made to tribes, TDHEs, or tribal members and is not income restricted. More than 27,000 loans totaling more than $4.46 billion have been made under Section 184, and 2010 HUD data showed that the program has helped more than 11,000 Native American families while maintaining a foreclosure rate below 4 percent.57 The Title VI program provides a 95 percent guarantee on loans made to tribes who set aside a portion of their IHBG funds for the loan. A key purpose of the Title VI program, explains Boyd, is to give tribes an opportunity to leverage IHBG funds with other sources of capital to finance affordable housing activities.58 Since 2000, the first year of the program, Title VI has guaranteed 80 loans for more than $200 million.59

A line graph showing the allocation of Indian Housing Block Grant Funds from 2002 to 2014 in current and 2002 dollars.
Source: HUD Congressional Budget Justifications, 2002–2014.
Benefits of Self-Determination. Self-determination in housing — the ability to identify unique tribal housing issues and the freedom to design and implement housing solutions that meet tribal needs — is a significant reason for tribal support of NAHASDA.60 Carol Gore, executive director of the Cook Inlet Housing Authority in Alaska, says that NAHASDA is “unequivocally the reason for their success,” citing the program’s flexibility and its “vastly less bureaucratic” nature compared with previous initiatives.61 Through NAHADSA, tribes can implement a diverse range of programs — some of which would not have been eligible under the Housing Act of 1937, such as downpayment assistance (see “Local Initiatives Promote Homeownership in Indian Country”), transitional housing, domestic abuse shelters, and revolving loan funds. For example, the Confederated Tribes of Siletz Indians in Oregon developed a rental voucher program that defrays housing costs for low-income tribal members who are attending college. According to Difuntorum, the program would not have been possible before NAHASDA.62

Housing decisions under NAHASDA are also more likely to reflect local conditions. Gore points out that before NAHASDA, HUD built the same type of housing in Alaska and New Mexico despite their vastly different climates.63 Reflecting local and tribal considerations in a housing program enhances its cultural relevancy. Miriam Jorgensen, research director of HPAIED and the Native Nations Institute for Leadership, Management, and Policy, explains that housing programs and infrastructure need to reflect tribal preferences, and housing institutions need to be seen as legitimate in the eyes of tribal members. Failing to include cultural relevancy in housing decisions can disrupt communities. For example, in the 1970s, HUD built suburban-style homes in the Ohkay Owingeh pueblo in New Mexico, a development pattern that “was not culturally appropriate,” says Jorgensen.64 Suburban-style homes undermined the communal ties among the people of Ohkay Owingeh, who had lived in homes surrounding a central plaza for hundreds of years. In 2013, residents restored several pueblos, allowing 29 families to return to the more traditional housing environment, as part of an ongoing plan to restore Ohkay Owingeh’s tribal center, Owe’neh Bupingeh. The restoration plan received the 2013 HUD Secretary’s Opportunity and Empowerment Award.65 According to Cornell, this project demonstrates that housing, “when creatively done, can do more than provide homes. It can help restore community life.”66

Paucity of Funding. Although NAHASDA is generally seen as an improvement over previous HUD policies, some tribes believe that its funding levels are insufficient to meet the current need for affordable housing. NAHASDA-related funding has failed to keep pace with inflation; Congress appropriated $587 million for the program in 1998, the first year of funding, and by 2014 that figure had risen to only $650 million.67 Inadequate funding is a serious concern because, as the 2009 evaluation of the IHBG program stated, “[h]istorically, private investment has played little or no role in financing housing in Native communities…result[ing] in federal dollars making up a large portion of total housing resources.”68

These funding constraints can make the distribution of money a contentious issue. “Probably the most important issue tackled through negotiated rulemaking,” says Sossamon, “has been the development of the formula by which tribes are allocated funds under the IHBG.” Sossamon explains that “the formula is a result of countless discussions among tribal leaders and federal officials which reached a careful balance of tribal interests.”69 Some tribal leaders, however, have argued that the formula is based on inaccurate data — on some reservations, for example, the homeless population is notoriously difficult to count — and fails to consider important factors such as the amount of land under tribal control that is suitable for development.70 Population counts are also complicated by changes in the way the U.S. Census Bureau collects information on race and ethnicity. The census now allows respondents to identify as multiple races, which has led some tribes to see large increases in their Native American populations, explains Richardson.71

HUD and leaders from 23 TDHEs are currently engaged in negotiated rulemaking to discuss updates to NAHASDA and have held 6 sessions since August 2013. Committee members were split into two workgroups to cover topics such as the minimum amount of funding available to tribes, funding for maintenance of existing housing, data sources used when calculating funding, and technical definitions. Tribes have tentatively agreed to adopt American Community Survey (ACS) data, which are updated more frequently, but Richardson says that tribal representatives want to explore all possible datasets as well as the challenges involved in using ACS data before they make a final decision.72

Leveraging and Administrative Capacity. Many tribes use their IHBG funds to leverage other state or federal resources, an opportunity that has been identified as a significant improvement over the Housing Act of 1937. Gore states that leveraging has allowed Cook Inlet to nearly triple the amount of housing built annually, from 34 homes per year between 1974 and 1997 to 110 homes per year between 1998 and 2014.73 To encourage leveraging, the reauthorization of NAHASDA in 2008 specifically included it as an acceptable use of IHBG funds and created a leveraging program. The most common sources of funds for leveraging are other HUD programs (such as the Indian Community Development Block Grant program or the Resident Opportunities and Self-Sufficiency program), the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) program, and U.S. Department of Agriculture rural housing programs.74

Some tribes have formed nonprofit organizations to more effectively manage partnerships; such nonprofits offer tribes organizational autonomy, the ability to create and sustain relationships with other nonprofits, a limitation of tribal liability, the ability to serve as a housing developer, and the ability to receive tax-free gifts.75 The historic distrust between tribes and federally sponsored IHAs, however, can leave some tribes reluctant to create independent housing entities, according to attorney Brian Pierson, a specialist in Indian law.76 Some tribes have created sophisticated leveraging operations within a TDHE or the housing department of a tribal government.77 Leveraging NAHASDA funds with other funding sources, however, does have drawbacks — other sources may require tribes to duplicate work, adding delays and additional costs, and different programs may have complex rules and requirements. When accessing funds from several different programs, tribal housing authorities often need to complete several environmental reviews, which can take years and use up much of the tribe’s housing funds.78 Tribes compete for tax credits from their state. Use of LIHTC funding requires the creation of a limited liability partnership and the ability to navigate U.S. Internal Revenue Service regulations and compete for tax credits.79

Size is an important factor when it comes to leveraging, administering IHBG funds, and running housing programs. Limited administrative capacity is one of the most commonly identified internal problems, according to a recent U.S. Government Accountability Office report. Smaller tribes, which confront many of the same challenges as larger tribes but draw on significantly smaller populations, may be unable to create dedicated staff positions because their officials must serve in multiple roles.80 Pierson, however, argues that the ability to confront these obstacles should not be seen exclusively in terms of capacity, pointing out that consultants knowledgeable about housing development can supplement the smaller staffs of small tribes. Pierson says that support from the tribal leadership and a strong executive director can be more important influences on whether a tribe pursues leveraging. “Often it needs boldness, because something could go wrong,” he says.81

Institutional Capacity. As tribes assume greater self-governance roles under self-determination policies, the capacities of institutions such as courts, bureaucracies, and legal systems have become important factors in the success of housing programs and the availability of credit for development and homeownership. A CDFI Fund study found that lenders were often unwilling to extend credit because of “[u]ncertain tribal commercial laws and regulations and the absence of an independent judiciary.”82 Dimitrova-Grajzl et al. found evidence that the institutional capacity of tribal courts may affect consumer credit, and Parker found evidence that lenders are more likely to extend credit to Native American communities under state jurisdiction because lenders “are less certain about the enforcement of debt contracts under tribal law.”83 In her research on pre-NAHASDA IHAs, Jorgensen found that the existence of independent courts and other dispute resolution mechanisms corresponded to a housing program’s stability. She explains that the existence and enforceability of rules that encouraged people to pay their rent on time allowed IHAs to operate in a more predictable funding environment.84

Research by Cornell and Kalt identifies four features of institutions that are critical to success: stability, the separation of politics from day-to-day program management, the removal of politics from court decisions, and a reliable and efficient bureaucracy. Tribes that have worked to strengthen institutions have seen corresponding improvements in economic development. For example, after engaging in two decades of constitutional reform, the Citizen Potawatomi Nation in Oklahoma succeeded in attracting millions of dollars in investment capital to its business enterprises. Cornell says that although some tribes have not engaged in a systematic update of courts and other government structures, the legal sophistication of tribes overall has improved over the past decade.85

Trust Land and the HEARTH Act

A view of houses in Tillamook subdivision built by the Siletz Tribal Housing Department.
The Tillamook subdivision was built by the Siletz Tribal Housing Department using the Title VI Loan Guarantee Program. Robert Smith, Construction Manager
In 2012, Congress passed the Helping Expedite and Advance Responsible Tribal Home Ownership (HEARTH) Act, further empowering tribes to exercise their inherent sovereignty over tribal lands.86 As stated earlier, tribes have had difficulty developing housing markets and encouraging private investment in Indian Country because of the unique legal environment.87 Housing development in Indian Country is often based on long-term leases, an arrangement that protects against the continued loss of land to non-Indians but also discourages lending because the underlying land cannot be used as collateral for a mortgage. Federal loan guarantee programs designed to overcome this obstacle are stymied by a lack of local control of the leasing process and restrictions on trust land.88 The HEARTH Act grants native nations control over the land leasing process, devolving authority from the federal government to local tribes.

Difficulty Developing Trust Land. Under the Indian Long-Term Leasing Act of 1955, the Secretary of the Interior, acting through BIA, must approve all leases on land held in trust by the federal government or with deed restrictions.89 Delays in the leasing process can add costs and uncertainty, hindering lenders and housing developers.90 A study by Laderman and Reid showed that loan guarantee programs had a positive, statistically significant impact on credit access, but the impact was small and possibly caused by underlying characteristics of the tribes that implemented the program. For example, the state of a tribe’s relationship with BIA may affect the timeliness of lease approvals and the willingness of lenders to approve loans.91 Trust land may be more difficult to develop. A HUD evaluation of the Section 184 program found that even with the guarantee that protects mortgages on trust land, 85 percent of individual borrowers and 76 percent of all borrowers (tribes and individuals) were on fee simple land.92 Fee simple land can be freely used or transferred by the owner, whereas trust and deed-restricted land need federal approval to be used or sold. Similarly, documents for land titles are typically maintained by BIA through its Land Titles and Records Office (LTRO) rather than by local tribes. Before extending credit, lenders require a title status report from BIA’s LTRO detailing any deed restrictions or other encumbrances, which can be time consuming.93 A U.S. Government Accountability Office report on BIA found that the agency’s processing time for a report in 2005 was a median of 1.2 years and ranged from as little as 58 days to as long as 19 years. Lenders, however, typically allow borrowers to lock in mortgage rates for only 30 to 60 days while their loan is being processed. Lock-in periods are designed to be long enough to allow the buyer to go to settlement.94

The HEARTH Act. Leasing and land titling delays at the federal level have led tribes to assume more control over the process.95 With the HEARTH Act, Congress granted tribes the ability to develop and implement their own regulations governing nonmineral leasing on Indian lands without BIA approval as long as the Secretary of the Interior approves the regulations. The act is designed to facilitate improvements to tribal economies and communities by reducing the approval time for leases for homes and small businesses in Indian Country. The HEARTH Act also calls for a review of land titling delays to determine whether expediting the process is possible.96

Five members of the Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians and Rep. Rick Nolan cutting a ribbon in front of a housing development.
Members of the Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians and Rep. Rick Nolan cut the ribbon of a supportive housing development for Native American veterans. Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa
The HEARTH Act grew out of a leasing exception granted to the Navajo Nation through the Navajo Surface Leasing Reform Act of 2000, which the Navajo Nation sought as a means to foster economic development.97 In 2006, the Navajo Nation’s business site leasing regulations were approved after years of discussions with stakeholders, public hearings, and negotiations with the Department of Interior. In developing its leasing regulations, the Navajo Nation incorporated flexibility by building in waivers and exemptions. According to Karis Begaye, an attorney with the Navajo Nation Department of Justice, the Navajo Nation believed that the rigidity of the old regulations hindered development; therefore, the Navajo sought regulations that could accommodate everyone from manufacturing plants to nonprofits. The tribe managed to reduce the application review time to between 20 and 30 days, resulting in cost savings for local businesses. Between 2007 and 2013, the Navajo Nation has approved more than 100 leases and facilitated the transfer of 200 leases from BIA to the Navajo. Begaye notes that although the leasing terms changed from 99 years to a total of 75 years spread over three terms, many businesses are willing to make the switch because of the reduced regulatory burden under the Navajo system.98

As of June 2014, 21 of 300 eligible tribes (many tribes in Alaska and Oklahoma are not affected by the HEARTH Act) have submitted applications to implement their own leasing regulations, and 12 have been approved.99 One possible explanation for the low adoption rates may be the complexity of creating leasing regulations and the inability of tribes with limited resources to dedicate the staff necessary to develop compliant leasing regulations. Some tribes have developed leasing regulations that adhere closely to BIA’s model regulations, which Pierson says may expedite the approval process but has the drawback of basing regulations on federal, not tribal, realities.100 According to Boyd, HUD is providing more technical assistance for tribes that want to develop their own regulations.101

Photo shows a duplex home built using Indian Housing Block Grant funds and Low-Income Housing Tax Credits.
This Mountain View Village duplex was built using Indian Housing Block Grant funding and low-income housing tax credits. Ken Graham Photography
Other tribes may not feel a strong need to adopt leasing regulations under the HEARTH Act if they have already developed workarounds for the leasing and land titling problems. For example, the Saginaw Chippewa Indian tribe saw an increase in private mortgages on trust land and a housing boom after the tribe established its own LTRO in 2000.102 The Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa has developed sophisticated and efficient leasing and recording operations on the reservation that serve a similar purpose, explains Diver. The tribe’s LTRO has been “up and running for a number of years” and was one of the first to be granted access to BIA’s Trust Asset and Accounting Management System, which allows the tribe to electronically maintain and track title documents, contracts, and leases.103 All of these innovations help the Fond du Lac Band reduce delays and facilitate housing development.

Remaining Challenges and the Future

Indian Country, Difuntorum points out, is full of both successes and struggles.104 The policy of self-determination — and legislation that has furthered that policy — has led to notable improvements in housing and economic development for many native communities.105 The logic of self-determination policies such as NAHASDA and the HEARTH Act, explains Cornell, is quite simple: “[T]he people who make decisions should feel the consequences of those decisions.” This process does not guarantee success, Cornell says, but creates better incentives for success.106 Previous “one-size-fits-all” approaches failed because federal officials often did not account for the ways Native American communities and environments differ from those in other areas of the country.107

NAHASDA expired in September 2013; its reauthorization is pending as of March 2015. The next iteration of NAHASDA promises to expand on the self-determination principle in some ways, although not in others. The reauthorization bill removes some duplicate requirements and introduces more spending flexibility. A key stumbling block identified by NAIHC and other housing stakeholders was the cumbersome environmental review process.108 An amendment would allow “the environmental review requirements of the Indian housing block grant projects to satisfy any other federal environmental review requirements imposed on agencies involved in the projects.”109 However, the reauthorization bill retains some requirements that Difuntorum believes intrude on Native American self-governance, such as the Brooke Amendment, which restricts rents to 30 percent of a tenant’s income. Although many housing advocates support the 30 percent rule because it helps to ensure that low-income households have money for additional expenses such as food and healthcare, the rule has a more limiting effect in Indian Country. Households with incomes at or near zero pay little to nothing in rent, limiting the amount of money a housing entity can collect. Under the Housing Act of 1937, other public housing agencies receive support for maintenance and operations that offsets this loss of money, but under NAHASDA, tribal housing authorities do not receive additional financial support. Difuntorum argues that eliminating the rule would grant tribes more flexibility to decide how to distribute assistance among tribal members.110

Photo shows two buildings located at crossroads with retail on the first floor and housing above.
The Park Place Village in the Mountain View area of Anchorage, Alaska was developed by the Cook Inlet Housing Authority and includes first-floor retail. Ken Graham Photography
Flexibility in program design is a key aspect of self-determination policy, enabling tribes to tailor housing assistance to local need and promote residential self-sufficiency goals. Sossamon believes “we can just treat the symptoms or we can find the cure. And the cure is empowering our own members to be successful.” He says that Choctaw housing programs work with residents to help them achieve their educational and employment aspirations and build “a proud nation of Choctaws.”111 Linking housing programs to residential self-sufficiency and economic development is one of the next major challenges for housing development in Indian Country, says Boyd.112 Tribal businesses can also benefit. Within Indian Country, many of the barriers that affect housing development — poor infrastructure, a complex legal environment, and difficulties leasing land and accessing capital — also hinder economic development.113 Housing programs that improve credit markets by building the creditworthiness of individuals and promoting lending institutions on or near reservations can spur improvements in tribal economies by making it easier for businesses to start or expand.114

As tribal economies grow, many tribes hope to increase the number of housing options for different income groups. Pierson says that middle-income housing, a low priority for years, has become a concern for some tribes as more Native Americans return to reservations to take advantage of new job opportunities and want to live in their communities. To expand the range of housing opportunities, tribes may need to incorporate solutions from other tribes and from beyond Indian Country. Gore explains that an important factor in the Cook Inlet Housing Authority’s success was exposure to different housing ideas: “Go out and find different ideas and put them through your own filter, but use inputs from all over.”115

Many tribal leaders are beginning to realize that “when you take on power, you also take on responsibility,” says Cornell. Part of that responsibility is developing effective governing institutions that are able to adapt solutions to fit local conditions. Cornell points out that, although the process has not always been “smooth,” there has been “growth in institutional knowledge and expertise and creativity in Indian Country that is paying off in capable governments that can pursue tribal objectives and aspirations.”116 Having achieved the right to self-governance in many respects, tribes are now undergoing the long-term process of improving their tribal constitutions, developing the rule of law, and enhancing the capacities of legal professionals such as judges and lawyers. In improving these institutions, tribes are retaining the same element of self-determination — Native Americans deciding for themselves what does and does not work — that can fuel innovative and culturally relevant solutions in housing development.117

  1. Dana Tell and Axton E. Betz. 2012. “Housing Issues and Solutions for the Residents on the Pine Ridge Reserva­tion, South Dakota,” Journal of Consumer Education 29, 71.
  2. Kathryn L.S. Pettit, G. Thomas Kingsley, Jennifer Biess, Kassie Bertumen, Nancy Pindus, Chris Narducci, and Amos Budde. 2014. Continuity and Change: Demographic, Socioeconomic, and Housing Conditions of American Indians and Alaska Natives, prepared for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, Office of Policy Development and Research, Washington, DC: Govern­ment Printing Office, 61; 64.
  3. Brian Pierson. 2010. “Developing Affordable Hous­ing In Indian Country,” Journal of Affordable Housing 19:3&4, 367; Stephen Cornell and Joseph P. Kalt. 2010. “American Indian Self-Determination: The Politi­cal Economy of a Successful Policy,” Native Nations Institute for Leadership, Management, and Policy and The Harvard Project on American Indian Economic Development.
  4. Cheryl Causley. 2013. “Identifying Barriers to Indian Housing Development and Finding Solutions,” U.S. Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, 113th Congress, 10 April testimony; Harvard Project on American Indian Economic Development (Harvard Project). 2008. The State of the Native Nations: Conditions under U.S. Policies of Self-Determination, New York: Oxford University Press, 253.
  5. U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs. “Frequently Asked Ques­tions” ( Accessed 20 January 2015; Janeen Comenote. 2009. “No Home in Indian Country,Poverty & Race November/December Issue; Samuel Cook. 1994. “What is Indian Self-Deter­mination?Red Ink 3:1, 23–6.
  6. Cornell and Kalt, 5; U.S. Department of the Interior. 2010. “Indian Entities Recognized and Eligible To Re­ceive Services From the United States Bureau of Indian Affairs,” Federal Register 75:190 (October 1), 60810.
  7. U.S. Census Bureau. “ACS Demographic and Housing Estimates,” 2013 American Community Survey 1-Year Estimates; Pettit et al., 13–8.
  8. San Diego State University Library. “California Indians and their reservations: an online dictionary” ( Accessed 20 January 2015; Navajo Nation. “History” ( Accessed 20 January 2015.
  9. Katie Jones. 2014. “The Native American Housing Assis­tance and Self-Determination Act of 1996: Background and Information,” Congressional Research Service, 1–4; Harvard Project, 253–4; 351–6; Alaska Depart­ment of Fish and Game. “Where is the Alaska Tundra?” ( Accessed 27 January 2015.
  10. Shaun Donovan. 2010. “Innovative Solutions to Ad­dressing Housing Needs in Our Indian Communities,” U.S. Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs and the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, 111th Congress, 25 April testimony.
  11. Housing Assistance Council. 2013. “Housing on Native American Lands,” 7.
  12. Causley, 18.
  13. Pettit et al., 61.
  14. Paul Iron Cloud. 2010. “Innovative Solutions to Ad­dressing Housing Needs in Our Indian Communities,” U.S. Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs and the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, 111th Congress, 25 April testimony, 11.
  15. Ibid; U.S. Senate Committee on Indian Affairs. 2014. “Reauthorizing the Native American Housing Assistance and Self-determination Act of 1996, and for other purposes,” 113th Congress, Senate Report: 113-152, 2–3; Donovan; Cheryl Causley. 2010. “In­novative Solutions to Addressing Housing Needs in Our Indian Communities,” U.S. Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs and the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, 111th Congress, 25 April testimony, 16–18; U.S. Commission on Civil Rights. 2003. “A Quiet Crisis: Federal Funding and Unmet Needs In Indian Country,” 62.
  16. Russell Sossamon. 2013. “Identifying Barriers to Indian Housing Development and Finding Solutions,” U.S. Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, 113th Con­gress, 10 April testimony, 36.
  17. Cornell and Kalt; Pettit et al., 30–1; xv.
  18. Interview with Sami Jo Difuntorum, 30 December 2014.
  19. U.S. Government Accountability Office. 2014. “Native American Housing: Additional Actions Needed to Bet­ter Support Tribal Efforts,” 10; 12–3.
  20. U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. 2014. “Public and Indian Housing: Native American Housing Block Grants 2015 Summary Statements and Initiatives,” L-11.
  21. U.S. Government Accountability Office. 2010. “Native American Housing: Tribes Generally View Block Grant Program as Effective, but Tracking Infrastructure Plans and Investments Needs Improvement,” 17; Stephen Cornell. 2007. “Remaking the Tools of Governance: Colonial Legacies, Indigenous Solutions,” in Rebuilding Native Nations: Strategies for Governance and Development, Miriam Jorgensen, ed. Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 71.
  22. Community Development Financial Institutions Fund (CDFI). 2001. “The Report of the Native American Lending Study,” 4–11.
  23. The Federal Reserve System and the Brookings Institute. 2008. The Enduring Challenge of Concentrated Poverty: Case Studies from Communities Across the U.S, 68; 70–1.
  24. Federico Burlon and Richard M. Todd. 2009. “Home­ownership gaps among Indian reservations prove puzzling,CommunityDividend, 2.
  25. Harvard Project, 103; CDFI, 7; 15; 30–1; Indian Land Tenure Foundation. “Fractionated Interest” ( Accessed 10 February 2015; U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs, “Fre­quently Asked Questions”; Cornell and Kalt, 3.
  26. Elizabeth Laderman and Carolina Reid. 2010. “Mort­gage Lending on Native American reservations: Does a guarantee matter?” Journal of Housing Economics 19:3, 233–242; Russell Sossamon. 2010. “Innovative Solutions to Addressing Housing Needs in Our Indian Communities,” U.S. Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs and the Senate Com­mittee on Indian Affairs, 111th Congress, 25 April testimony, 35; First Nations Development Institute. 2008. “Borrowing Trouble: Predatory Lending in Na­tive American Communities,” 14–6.
  27. U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs, “Frequently Asked Questions”; Joseph P. Kalt and Joseph William Singer. 2014. “Myths and Realities of Tribal Sovereignty: The Law and Economics of Indian Self-Rule,” Harvard Project, 7–10; Manley A. Begay, Jr., Stephen Cornell, Miriam Jorgensen, and Joseph P. Kalt. 2007. “Develop­ment, Governance, Culture: What Are They and What Do They Have to Do with Rebuilding Native Nations?” in Rebuilding Native Nations: Strategies for Governance and Development, Miriam Jorgensen, ed. Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 36–7; U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, 62; Cook, 23–6.
  28. U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs. “Indian Self-Determi­nation and Education Assistance Act, as Amended,” 2. (­tion/idc017334.pdf). Accessed 5 February 2015.
  29. Interview with Stephen Cornell, 9 January 2015.
  30. Harvard Project, 105; Pierson 2010, 374–5; Housing Assistance Council, 7.
  31. Charles Wilkinson. 2005. Blood Struggle: The Rise of Modern Indian Nations,’ New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 57; Robert McCarthy. 2004. “The Bureau of Indian Affairs and the Federal Trust Obligation to American Indians,BYU Journal of Public Law 19:1, 145.
  32. G. Alan Tarr. 2006. “Symmetry and Asymmetry in American Federalism,” Center for State Constitutional Studies, 7; McCarthy, 5.
  33. Wilkinson, 57.
  34. Kalt and Singer, 1–2.
  35. Randall Akee and Jonathon Taylor. 2014. “Social and Economic Change on American Indian Reservations: A Databook of the US Censuses and the American Community Survey 1990–2010.
  36. Stephen Cornell and Joseph P. Kalt. 2005. “Two Ap­proaches to Economic Development on American Reservations: One Works, the Other Doesn’t,” Native Nations Institute for Leadership, Management, and Policy and The Harvard Project on American Indian Economic Development, 13.
  37. Cornell and Kalt 2005, 12–4.
  38. Kalt and Singer, 2; Ho-Chunk, Inc. “Ho-Chunk Today” ( Accessed 29 January 2015; Ho-Chunk, Inc. “History” (­tory.html). Accessed 29 January 2015; Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians. “Economic Development History” (­nomicDevHistory.html). Accessed 20 January 2015.
  39. G. Thomas Kingsley, Virginia E. Spencer, John Simon­son, Carla E. Herbig, Nancy Kay Maris, and Mikelsons Peter Tatian. 1996. Assessment of American Indian Hous­ing Needs and Programs, The Urban Institute, Center for Public Financing and Housing.
  40. Coalition for Indian Housing Development. 2001. “Sub­mission to the Millennial Housing Commission,” 2.
  41. Miriam Jorgensen. 2004. History’s Lesson for HUD and Tribes. Native Nations Institute for Leadership, Management, and Policy and The Harvard Project on American Indian Economic Development, 1; Rodger Boyd. 2013. “Identifying Barriers to Indian Housing Development and Finding Solutions,” U.S. Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, 113th Congress, 10 April testimony, 9–10.
  42. U.S. Government Accountability Office 2010, 34. Smaller tribes overwhelmingly expressed a positive view of the legislation because they were guaranteed annual funding. Some larger tribes preferred the older system because they could successfully compete for competitive grants. However, most larger tribes reported that NAHASDA was an improvement.
  43. Sossamon 2013, 37; Housing Affairs Council 2013, 6; Clinton L. Wood and Caroline M Clevenger. 2012. “A Sampling of Community Based Efforts at Pine Ridge Indian Reservations,” American Indian Culture and Research Journal 36:4, 4.
  44. U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, 53; U.S. Government Accountability Office 2010, 10; Harvard Project, 113.
  45. U.S. Government Accountability Office 2010, 6; U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. “NAHASDA” ( Accessed 29 January 2015; Jones, 1–4; U.S. Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, 2; U.S. Commis­sion on Civil Rights, 53.
  46. Interview with Rodger Boyd, 20 January 2015.
  47. Cornell Legal Information Institute. “25 U.S. Code § 4101 - Congressional findings” ( Accessed 5 February 2015; Jones, 1–4; U.S. Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, 2; U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, 53.
  48. Interview with Todd Richardson, 19 February 2015.
  49. Interview with Rodger Boyd.
  50. U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. “Government to Government Tribal Consultation Pol­icy” ( Accessed 29 January 2015; U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. “PART 1000—Native Ameri­can Housing Activities” ( Accessed 10 February 2015; U.S. Government Accountability Office 2010, 12.
  51. Interview with Rodger Boyd; U.S. Department of Hous­ing and Urban Development. “IHBG Formula” (­lic_indian_housing/ih/codetalk/onap/ihbgformula) Accessed 1 January 2015; National American Indian Housing Council. 2013. “NAHASDA Reauthorization 2013,” 1–2; U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development 2014, L-5.
  52. ACKCO, Inc. and Abt Associates, Inc. 2009. “Indian Housing Block Grant Evaluation Final Report,” pre­pared for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, 65.
  53. U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. 2015. “Public and Indian Housing: Native American Housing Block Grants 2016 Summary Statements and Initiatives,” L-5; U.S. Government Accountability Office 2010, 14.
  54. Email correspondence with Karen Diver, 3 April 2015.
  55. Email correspondence with Sami Jo Difuntorum, 3 April 2015.
  56. Annette Bryan. 2013. “Identifying Barriers to Indian Housing Development and Finding Solutions,” U.S. Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, 113th Congress, 10 April testimony; U.S. Government Accountability Office 2010, 14.
  57. Ladermen and Reid, 236; Boyd 2013, 13; Donovan, 3; Information provided by HUD’s Office of Native American Programs.
  58. U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Develop­ment. “Section 184 Loan Guarantee” (­an_housing/ih/homeownership/184). Accessed 10 De­cember 2014; U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. “Title VI Loan Guarantee” (­dian_housing/ih/homeownership/titlevi). Accessed 10 December 2014; Interview with Rodger Boyd.
  59. Information provided by HUD’s Office of Native American Programs.
  60. U.S. Government Accountability Office 2010, 36.
  61. Interview with Carol Gore, 14 January 2015.
  62. Donovan, 21; Interview with Sami Jo Difuntorum.
  63. Interview with Carol Gore.
  64. Interview with Miriam Jorgensen.
  65. Harvard Project. 2008. “Tsigo bugeh Village Ohkay Owingeh Housing Authority” (­lage.pdf). Accessed 5 February 2014; U.S. Depart­ment of Housing and Urban Development. 2013. “Ohkay Owingeh, New Mexico: Tribal-Led Cultural Preservation” ( Accessed 3 February 2014.
  66. Interview with Stephen Cornell.
  67. National Congress of American Indians. 2014. “An Honorable Budget for Indian Country: Equitable Funding for Tribes,” Washington, DC; Interview with Carol Gore; U.S. Government Accountability Office. 1998. “Native American Housing: Information on HUD’s Funding of Indian Housing Programs,” 12; U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development 2014, L-1.
  68. ACKCO, Inc. and Abt Associates, Inc., 2.
  69. Sossamon 2013, 33–4.
  70. U.S. Government Accountability Office 2010, 39.
  71. Interview with Todd Richardson.
  72. Indian Housing Block Grant Formula Negotiated Rulemaking Committee. “Welcome” (ihbgrulemak­ Accessed 5 February 2015; Indian Housing Block Grant Formula Negotiated Rulemaking Committee. 2013. “Issues for Work Groups - Com­bined Matrix 9/25/2013” ( Accessed 5 February 2015; U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Develop­ment. 2013. “Indian Housing Block Grant Allocation Formula: Notice of Proposed Negotiated Rulemaking Committee Membership,Federal Register 78:113 (June 6), 35179; Interview with Todd Richardson.
  73. U.S. Government Accountability Office 2010, 22; Inter­view with Carol Gore.
  74. U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Redevelop­ment. 2011. “Native American Housing Assistance and Self-Determination Reauthorization Act of 2008: Amendments to Program Regulations,” Federal Register 76:223 (November 18), 71478; Interview with Rodger Boyd; Pierson, 381–2; ACKCO, Inc. and Abt Associates, Inc., 46.
  75. Causley 2013, 21. Sossamon 2010, 36.
  76. Interview with Brian Pierson, attorney with Godfrey & Kahn, 6 January 2015.
  77. Interview with Carol Gore.
  78. U.S. Government Accountability Office 2010, 32.
  79. Interview with Brian Pierson; Causley 2013, 19.
  80. U.S. Government Accountability Office 2014, 24.
  81. Interview with Brian Pierson.
  82. CDFI, 4.
  83. Valentina Dimitrova-Grajzl, Peter Grajzl, A. Joseph Guse, and Richard M. Todd. 2014. “Consumer credit on American Indian Reservations,” 24; 27; Dominic P. Parker. 2010. “The Effect of Legal Institutions on Access to Credit: Evidence from American Indian Res­ervations,” The University of Wisconsin–Madison, 29.
  84. Interview with Miriam Jorgensen.
  85. Cornell and Kalt 2005, 15; 11; Interview with Stephen Cornell.
  86. U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs. “The HEARTH Act Information Series – Part 1” ( Accessed 5 February 2015.
  87. Causley 2013, 16.
  88. Jones, 3; Pierson 2010, 375–6; Harvard Project, 103; CDFI, 7; 15; 30–1.
  89. Jodi Gillete. 2012. “Strengthening Tribal Communities Through the HEARTH Act,” 30 July White House blog (­ing-tribal-communities-through-hearth-act). Accessed 10 February 2015; National American Indian Housing Council. 2009. “National American Indian Housing Council White Paper on Legislation to Amend the Indian Long Term Leasing Act of 1955,” 1–2.
  90. ACKCO, Inc. and Abt Associates, Inc.. 2007. “Section 184 Program Evaluation Final Report,” prepared for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Develop­ment, 27; Ladermen and Reid, 237.
  91. Laderman and Reid, 236.
  92. ACKCO, Inc. and Abt Associates, Inc. 2007, 31.
  93. Karen Edwards, Peter Morris, and Sharon Red Thun­der. 2009. Exercising Sovereignty and Expanding Economic Opportunity Through Tribal Land Management, National Congress of American Indians Policy Research Center.
  94. U.S. Government Accountability Office. 2006. “BIA’s Efforts to Impose Time Frames and Collect Better Data Should Improve the Processing of Land in Trust Appli­cations,” 6; Federal Reserve Board. 2005. “A Consumer Guide to Mortgage Lock-ins” ( Accessed 8 April 2015.
  95. National American Indian Housing Council 2009, 1–3; Sossamon 2013, 50; Gillete.
  96. Gillete; Helping Expedite and Advance Responsible Tribal Homeownership Act, 2012, Pub. L. 112–151, Sec. 3. The HEARTH Act of 2012 is distinct from the HEARTH Act of 2009 which addressed homelessness.
  97. U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Natural Resources. 2012. “Helping Expedite and Advance Re­sponsible Tribal Homeownership Act of 2011,” House Report 112-427 ( Accessed 5 February 2015; Gillete; National American Indian Housing Council 2009, 1–3.
  98. Karis Begaye. 2013. “Tribal Land Leasing: Opportu­nities Presented by the HEARTH Act and amended 162 Leasing Regulations,” 29 March presentation for National Congress of American Indians ( Ac­cessed 5 February 2015.
  99. Gillete; The White House Office of the Press Secretary. 2014. “FACT SHEET: Strengthening Tribal Communi­ties through Education and Economic Development,” 13 June press release; U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs. “HEARTH Act of 2012” ( Accessed 5 February 2015. Oklahoma and Alaska, due to their particular histories, do not have a lot of trust land and are less affected by the HEARTH Act.
  100. Interview with Brian Pierson.
  101. Interview with Rodger Boyd.
  102. Harvard Project. n.d.“Honoring Nations: 2006 Hon­oree” (­ing_nations/2006_HN_Chippewa_tribal_land_title_re­cords_office.pdf). Accessed 9 February 2015; Edwards, Morris, and Red Thunder, 22–5.
  103. Interview with Karen Diver.
  104. Interview with Sami Jo Difuntorum.
  105. Kalt and Singer, 1.
  106. Interview with Stephen Cornell.
  107. Boyd 2013; Sossamon 2010.
  108. U.S. Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, 3.
  109. U.S. Congress. “Native American Housing Assistance and Self-Determination Reauthorization Act of 2013” ( Accessed 3 February 2015.
  110. Bryan, 27; National American Indian Housing Confer­ence. 2013. “Background on the 30 Percent Rule”; Interview with Sami Jo Difuntorum.
  111. Interview with Russell Sossamon.
  112. Interview with Rodger Boyd.
  113. Ted Jojola and Kevin Gover. 2007. “Infrastructure for Economic Development,” National Congress of American Indians Policy Research Center, 16; 30–1; 35; CDFI, 5.
  114. Jenny Small. 2012. “Financing Native Nations: Access to Capital Markets,” Review of Banking and Financial Law 32:1, 474–9; Causley 2013, 16; Susan Woodrow. 2012. “Growing Economies in Indian Country: Taking Stock of Progress and Partnerships,” Board of Gover­nors of the Federal Reserve System.
  115. Interview with Carol Gore.
  116. Interview with Stephen Cornell.
  117. Interview with Miriam Jorgensen; Cornell and Kalt 2010.


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