COVID-19 Resources

The Coalition has compiled the following resources to help our member organizations navigate the impacts of COVID-19. We’ll keep updating this list as more resources become available, so check back regularly.

Mortgage and Housing Assistance During the Coronavirus National Emergency

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) , and U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) partnered to launch a new mortgage and housing assistance website to help homeowners and renters during the coronavirus pandemic. The site provides information about mortgage relief options, protection for renters, avoiding scams, and mortgage basics.

View Site

Webinar: Preventing COVID-19 Foreclosures

On Tuesday, April 28, 2020, we hosted a webinar to explore how homeownership practitioners can support clients facing difficulties making regular monthly mortgage payments due to the impacts of COVID-19. We looked at key terms related to payment challenges, including forbearance, loss mitigation, and loan modification.

Download PPT Slides

Webinar: COVID-19 Responses, Concerns, and Needs

On Thursday, April 9, 2020, the South Dakota Native Homeownership Coalition hosted an information-sharing webinar with our members to learn about the impact of COVID-19 in different communities across the state.

Download PPT Slides

SD Governor’s Office of Economic Development

The South Dakota Governor’s Office of Economic Development has published a COVID-19 page that includes information on Governor Noem’s Small Business Relief Fund, other COVID-19 resources, SBA funding, and the Paycheck Protection Program.

Learn More

SD Housing Development Authority

The SD Housing Development Authority is encouraging struggling homeowners to reach out to their loan servicers. Homeowners who have mortgages backed by the federal government are provided protections through the CARES Act.

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USDA Rural Development 

USDA Rural Development has taken a number of immediate actions to help rural residents, businesses, and communities affected by the COVID-19 outbreak. Their April 8th stakeholder announcement outlines several opportunities for immediate relief in their guaranteed loan, rural housing service (single-family and multi-family housing), rural utilities service, and rural business-cooperative service programs.

April 8th Stakeholder AnnouncementApril 15th Stakeholder Announcement


HUD has published several COVID-19 resources and fact sheets and several lender letters that outline topics related to modified application requirements, appraisals, and loss mitigation options for the HUD 184 program.

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US Department of Veterans Affairs

The US Department of Veterans Affairs published a circular describing extended relief under the CARES Act for those affected by COVID-19, including eligibility, forbearance, credit reporting, exiting forbearance, and foreclosure moratorium.

Learn More

NDN Collective’s COVID-19 Response Project

The NDN Collective’s COVID-19 Response Project is designed to provide immediate relief to some of the most underserved communities in the country.

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Bush Foundation

The Bush Foundation has compiled a list of COVID-19 resources in the region for nonprofits, businesses, and individuals.

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Consumer Finance Protection Bureau

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has published several tips to help consumers stay on top of their finances during the pandemic.

Learn More

To learn more about coronavirus mortgage relief options under the CARES Act, watch the CFPB’s brief video titled, “CARES Act Mortgage Forbearance: What You Need to Know.”

Watch Now

Enterprise Community Partners

Enterprise will be providing regular updates on resources for residents and housing providers on their COVID-19 Resources: Rural & Native American Program page.

Learn More

Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, Center for Indian Country Development

The Center for Indian Country Development created a web page that is meant to direct tribal governments and tribal businesses (businesses owned by tribal members and tribally owned entities) to grants, loans, and other resources to respond to the economic consequences of the coronavirus.

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COVID-19 and Indian Country

A survey by the Center for Indian Country Development shows the coronavirus pandemic exposes tribal economies and governments to economic hardship.

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Coalition Convenes Native American Contractors in Effort to Increase Reservation Housing Stock

According to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), about 16 percent of households on Indian reservations are overcrowded, and an additional 68,000 housing units are needed to alleviate this burden. Housing in Indian Country is a complex and costly problem, but we are taking a grass roots approach to reverse long-standing issues on our state’s reservations.

“A couple years ago, we convened building contractors that were doing work on reservations and asked them about the major challenges they were facing. Since then, we’ve been implementing multi-faceted solutions designed to build the capacity of Native American building contractors, strengthen the construction industry on our state’s nine reservations, and to ultimately increase the housing stock available to Native American families,” says Tawney Brunsch, a member of the Coalition’s Executive Committee.

This year, at our 3rd annual Contractor’s Workshop the 84 attendees learned about federal and state programs that could put them at an advantage in the marketplace and grow their business. They also discussed the possibility of starting a Native American chapter of the South Dakota Homebuilders Association, which would unify their industry and provide opportunities for peer learning.

Daniel Kirk from Sisseton, South Dakota, started his company, Arrow Construction, a couple of years ago and now has four employees. He said he came to the workshop because he wants to improve the standard of living for his people.

“It’s been awesome to meet up with other contractors – talking about maybe teaming up instead of fighting,” said Kirk.

Kirk and the other building contractors at the workshop received professional instruction and assistance in developing a capability statement, a standard industry tool that is used to market construction firms. At the end of the workshop, they had the opportunity to pitch their firms to several different agencies seeking residential building contractors for upcoming projects.

“Meeting people here will have a big benefit with how I do business,” said Kirk. He believes the connections he made at the workshop are the most valuable thing he will bring back home with him.

Kirk first became involved with the Coalition through our Construction Internship Program last summer. He managed five interns who completed 400 hours of on-site work experience as well as a series of financial literacy trainings.

“The financial literacy was really cool. It changed everyone’s spending habits a little bit,” says Kirk.

During this year’s workshop, Kirk and two of his employees who were interns this summer were recognized along with others who also completed the Construction Internship Program.

“Building a qualified workforce and strengthening the Native American construction industry are foundational steps to making sure there is adequate housing and homeownership opportunities on reservations. We know this will be a long-term effort, but we are pleased with the progress we’ve made in the few short years we’ve been chipping away at some of these challenges,” says Brunsch.

Groups Gather to Advocate for Affordable Housing

Homes for South Dakota, a coalition of approximately 30 nonprofit, public, and private entities, gathered in the rotunda at the State Capitol to raise awareness of the need for affordable housing across the state and to advocate for a dedicated source of revenue for the South Dakota Housing Opportunity Fund (HOF).

During a luncheon, participants called legislative attention to the HOF, a program that has awarded $16.2 million in grant funding to create affordable housing for over 2,000 families since 2013. Currently, funding for HOF comes from budget surpluses, but Homes for South Dakota members argue that a dedicated source of revenue is needed to strategically implement long-term planning and leverage investments for affordable housing projects.

“HOF dollars have been leveraged with other sources time and again to create affordable housing options for families in every county of the state,” says Tawney Brunsch, Executive Committee Member of the South Dakota Native Homeownership Coalition, an organization that exhibited at the Homes for South Dakota day at the Capitol.

With rental and real estate prices on the rise, nearly a quarter of all South Dakotans have become housing cost-burdened, meaning that more than 30% of their income is being spent on housing and utilities. These households have little money left for other basic necessities, such as food, medical care, and transportation.

“We have many low- to moderate-income families whose incomes can’t keep up with the increasing housing costs. HOF has been combined with federal funding and private financing to build affordable rental and homeownership units – and even provide down payment assistance in some cases. It is a proven successful solution,” says Brunsch.

Housing Opportunity Fund Case Studies

Developed for the Homes for South Dakota Day at the Capitol, this set of case studies highlights how South Dakota’s Housing Opportunity Fund is creating homeownership opportunities in tribal communities.

Download Case Studies

Pilot Program Increases Rates of Mortgage Lending on South Dakota’s Reservations

During her address at the National American Indian Housing Council’s Legal Symposium, Tawney Brunsch, Executive Committee Member of the South Dakota Native Homeownership Coalition, reported that through a partnership with USDA Rural Development, two Native community development financial institutions (CDFIs) deployed eight home loans totaling nearly $1 million in two reservation communities during the past couple of months – more than was deployed in the previous nine years prior to the start of the program.

USDA Rural Development officially launched the 502 Direct Native CDFI Relending Pilot Program last summer as a way to increase homeownership opportunities on tribal lands, and approval of funds for deployment began in October this year.

“The 502 Relending Pilot has been a huge success! USDA, the South Dakota Native Homeownership Coalition, and the Native CDFIs have worked together to efficiently expand access to affordable mortgage capital to Native borrowers on trust land,” said Brunsch.

In just two months, the two Native CDFIs participating in the pilot, Four Bands Community Fund on the Cheyenne River Reservation and Mazaska Owecaso Otipi Financial on the Pine Ridge Reservation, have deployed approximately 50% of the $2 million in loan capital that was allocated to the pilot program and are currently working with 24 more families who are applying for the USDA 502 Direct Loan.

“This deployment rate shows that Native CDFIs are able to leverage their strong relationships within the communities they serve and their expertise in mortgage lending processes on tribal trust lands to accelerate homeownership rates on Indian reservations,” explains Brunsch.

The South Dakota Native Homeownership Coalition began advocating for the pilot program in 2015 and worked closely with U.S. Senator John Thune (R-SD), U.S. Senator Mike Rounds (R-SD), and U.S. Senator John Hoeven (R-ND). In March 2018, the South Dakota congressional delegation requested that USDA implement the pilot and recognized that while the 502 Direct Loan program was highly utilized, only 23 of the 7,187 loans made through the program in fiscal year 2017 went to Native American families on tribal lands.

Brunsch says the South Dakota Native Homeownership Coalition’s next step will be continued advocacy with the intention of making the pilot permanent so that it can be expanded to other Native communities throughout the country.

“We appreciate the leadership of our Senators who made this pilot possible and are excited to partner with the National American Indian Housing Council, National Congress of American Indians, and the Native CDFI Network to support the replication of this successful model in all Native communities,” Brunsch said.

Coalition Releases Two Assessment Reports

We recently commissioned two capacity-building needs assessments — one to identify specific capacity-building needs of housing practitioners and other Coalition members, the other to evaluate the barriers and opportunities for lenders providing mortgage financing on tribal trust land. We are pleased to announce the release of those assessment reports today.


Practitioner Assessment

The practitioner assessment was designed to address challenges faced by four key types of stakeholders in the homeownership process: 1) housing practitioners and their organizations, 2) potential homeowners, 3) the Coalition and its members, and 4) tribal leadership, as well as potential solutions to these challenges.

Download Practitioner Report

Lender Assessment

To assess the challenges associated with lending on trust land in South Dakota and to learn what lenders need in order to increase trust-land mortgage lending, this project surveyed lenders working across the state. Survey questions were aimed at developing a better understanding of the specific factors that affect applications for mortgages on Indian trust lands, mortgage origination on trust lands, institutional knowledge about lending on trust lands, and organizational practices that facilitate such lending.

Download Lender Report

First-of-their-kind Studies Create Pathways to Homeownership for Native American Veterans

Three tribal housing entities in South Dakota – Cheyenne River Housing Authority, Oglala Sioux (Lakota) Housing, and Sisseton Wahpeton Housing Authority – recently completed veterans housing needs and homeownership studies in cooperation with their Tribal Veterans Service Officers (TVSOs) in order to identify the housing and service issues most important to veterans on each reservation and to be able to develop tailored programs to help address these collective concerns. It is the first time studies of this caliber have been conducted, and the undertaking is already manifesting results in a number of ways.

“Everything we do is data driven, and it’s hard to find numbers on the reservation. We always ran into the same problem with lack of data,” explains Robert Dunsmore, Tribal Veterans Service Officer (TVSO) for Cheyenne River.

Dunsmore says having their study on hand helped them win a grant award that will support veterans housing projects. “Now we can show the need,” he says.

Echoing Dunsmore, Geri Opsal, the TVSO for Sisseton, expresses difficulty in accessing funding for veterans’ programs because of a lack of data.

“We have to collect data. It’s going to back us up on any endeavor we take on,” she says.

Data published in the studies was collected on each of the reservations through a survey and a focus group involving veterans from a number of different service periods. Tawney Brunsch, Executive Director of Lakota Funds, who participated in the Pine Ridge data collection efforts, says the focus group was especially beneficial.

“It was solution-oriented discussion for things we could do collaboratively,” she says. “And through some of the connections we made at that meeting, we had a veteran close a home loan last week.”

The Pine Ridge study inspired the development of and helped obtain essential funding to launch Lakota Funds’ new matched savings program designed provide down payment assistance for Native American veterans. One participant has already enrolled in the program.

The matched savings program will also provide one-on-one assistance to help Native veterans through the homeownership process, something that Kevin Klingbeil, Managing Director at Big Water Consulting (the firm that conducted the studies), says is a critical finding in the studies.

“One of the key things that has helped Native vets be successful in purchasing a home was having someone who cared and who helped walk them through the process and the paperwork,” says Klingbeil.

Opsal says the Veteran’s Affairs Native American Direct Loan (NADL) is a great mortgage product because it has such a low interest rate, but the process can be arduous and people need encouragement to keep moving through it.  She hopes to utilize the studies to inform policies that will streamline the NADL process.

Dunsmore sees the baseline data provided in the studies as a beginning. “We’re moving in the right direction. It’s time to start showing things – not talking about it. Once we start showing what we can do, better things will come.”

Klingbeil says, “We treated this project as the first of its kind so that we could create a model survey instrument. Then other groups or tribes could use it going forward.”

The South Dakota Native Homeownership Coalition commissioned the studies with funding support from Enterprise Community Partners and plans to launch a second round of studies sometime in the future. In the near-term, the Coalition will provide a platform for collaboration to explore strategies that will increase homeownership rates for Native American veterans throughout the state.

“We’re creating this baseline through the Coalition, and we’re going to build from that. One of our immediate actions will be collaborating with other TVSOs,” says Opsal.


Take a Look at the Studies!

Download each reservation’s report by clicking below.

Cheyenne River Pine Ridge Sisseton


Download a cumulative report of all three reservations by clicking below.

Cumulative Report

Eighth Renter Transitions to Homeowner in Eagle Nest Housing Development

In the midst of an extreme housing shortage, it is estimated that the Pine Ridge Reservation needs an additional 4,000 homes to provide adequate housing for residents. With a virtually nonexistent residential real estate market, families are commonly on the waiting list for low-income tribal housing for two-plus years. In the meantime, they are “doubling up” or even “tripling up” – terms used to describe multiple families living in a single-family residence – so that their basic needs for shelter are met. As a situation that has spanned several generations, this has become a way of life on the Reservation.

“A lot of people don’t know anything about homeownership or mortgages. We hear about homeowners in the city, but not here,” explains Carrie Sitting Up who rented a home in the Eagle Nest Housing Development, located in the northeast corner of the Reservation.

However, that is beginning to change. As the first Native American Low-Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) project in the country, Eagle Nest has provided affordable rental housing through its 30 single-family units since 1999. When the tax credit agreements reached maturity a few years ago, Lakota Funds, a nonprofit organization who developed the housing track and also a member of the Coalition, began converting the rental units into privately-owned homes.

Since then, they have been working with tenants to prepare them for homeownership by providing financial coaching, homebuyer readiness training, and other resources. During the Coalition’s 2017 Tour & Convening, we visited Eagle Nest and saw first-hand the progress they were making. The first sale in Eagle Nest closed in late 2017, and to date eight homes have sold!

Seeing another tenant become a homeowner inspired Sitting Up. She says, “I liked the outcome of her home. I didn’t think it was possible until I talked to her about it, and it gave me some motivation.”

Sitting Up’s homeownership journey began with getting her finances in order. She says this took some time, because she needed to clear up some debt. But, she was able to utilize Lakota Fund’s Credit Builder Loan to help her with this step.

“It was a beautiful experience, because I was able to figure out my finances on my own and take care of myself,” says Sitting Up.

She was moving through the loan application process with Mazaska Owecaso Otipi Financial, a community loan fund in Pine Ridge and also a Coalition member, when her father passed away in September 2018. After a time of grieving, she says she gathered herself together and sealed the deal.

She reflects on her loan signing, “I really cried, because my dad would have been so proud of me.”

As the first in her family to become a homeowner, Sitting Up says, “I feel like I won a grand prize buying this home.”

Sitting Up rolled several improvements – new windows, doors, siding, and roof – into the purchase of her home. There were other minor repairs, but she wanted to fix those on her own so she could experience the real meaning of homeownership. That is a decision that also kept her mortgage payment, which is comparable to her rental payment, more affordable.

“I’m still learning. Owning a home is a big deal, and I have experienced a bit of a struggle. But I knew I had to do it, because it was important to me,” says Sitting Up. Although it wasn’t easy, she says homeownership has given her structure in her life and it has been a positive step.

Sitting Up is planning a house warming party to celebrate her one-year anniversary of homeownership this Fall. She hopes her story will inspire other people to achieve homeownership.

“I love my home, and I’m really happy living here,” she says.

Unique Partnership Expands Homebuyer Education in Native Communities

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 homebuyer 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 HERO certification process.

According to Mary Stewart who coordinates HERO, “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 HERO 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 SDHDA, the South Dakota Native Homeownership Coalition (Coalition), and Freddie Mac. With help from Freddie Mac, HERO, SDHDA, 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 HERO orientation session and then became certified homebuyer education instructors. Some of them have been approved as HERO partners, which opened up a reimbursement-based funding source to support the delivery of their homebuyer education classes.

“I love HERO because it allows us to enhance our homeownership services. It’s been a great way to leverage and grow our homebuyer 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 HERO 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, HERO will continue its efforts to certify homebuyer 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 homebuyer 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 HERO to expand its services to reservation-based organizations.

Coalition Advocates for Native Homeownership in Washington DC

During the National American Indian Housing Council’s 2018 Legislative Conference, March 5-7 in Washington, DC, the South Dakota Native Homeownership Coalition mobilized a group of advocates that engaged in dialogue with numerous congressional representatives and federal agencies. This year’s group of advocates demonstrated a diverse representation of reservation communities, and included Tribally Designated Housing Entities, Tribal Veterans Service Officers, and partners from Cheyenne River, Lower Brule, Rosebud, Sisseton, Standing Rock, and Yankton.

During the DC trip, we met with Tara Sweeney, Assistant Secretary – Indian Affairs Department of the Interior to discuss the Bureau of Indian Affairs residential lease, mortgage, and Title Status Report approval processes. We urged the Assistant Secretary to streamline these processes, especially the Land Title Records Offices, which are not designed to accommodate the pace of the residential real estate market.


Other highlights included:

Providing updates on the USDA 502 Relending Pilot, and advocating to make it a permanent program for Native communities nationwide. We shared progress on the 502 Relending Pilot, currently being implemented in South Dakota by Four Bands Community Fund and Mazaska Owecaso Otipi Financial, with USDA Rural Development, as well as staff from Senator Mike Rounds (R-SD), Senator John Thune (R-SD), and Senator John Hoeven (R-ND), who were all instrumental in launching the pilot. Senator Hoeven even mentioned the 502 Relending Program in his address to the NAIHC Legislative Conference.

Meeting with the US Department of Veterans Affairs to discuss ways to streamline the Native American Direct Loan process in order to expand homeownership opportunities for Native American veterans on trust land. We proposed several policy recommendations that would expand outreach and assistance to Native veterans, design a loan packaging program, and pilot a relending demonstration, similar to the 502 Relending Pilot. We also advocated for these policies in our meeting with Senator Rounds’ Senate Committee on Veterans Affairs staff.

Sharing opportunities and challenges associated with Native homeownership with HUD Office of Native American Programs.We met with Deputy Assistant Secretary Heidi Frechette to advocate for solutions that would streamline processes and increase homeownership opportunities for Native Americans. Specifically, we discussed improving the implementation of HUD VASH vouchers, issues with the HUD Section 184 Indian Home Loan program, and BIA issues.

Meeting with Administration for Native Americans (ANA) Commissioner Jeannie Hovland and her staff to learning about how ANA’s programs could benefit the members of the Coalition.

Nearly 12,000 People Reached Through “Native Homeownership is Possible” Campaign

On November 5, 2018 the South Dakota Native Homeownership Coalition launched a week-long social media campaign designed to spread the message that “Native Homeownership is Possible” throughout Native communities in the state by utilizing the series of Native homeownership videos we produced. To help our stakeholders engage in the campaign, we developed a Social Media Toolkit with sample posts, a collection of shareable images, and hashtags.

We are pleased to announce that the campaign was incredibly successful! It gained momentum each day, and our message reached far and wide. Here’s what we accomplished:

  • Reached 11,869 people through Facebook posts.
  • Engaged 519 people through Facebook posts.
  • Drove 58 people to the site to seek out homeownership resources or watch additional videos.
  • Accumulated 453 views of the videos in the “Native Homeownership is Possible” series.

And some more great news… The content we published during the campaign will continue to have an impact in Native communities. As a result of the campaign, we seeded the idea of homeownership in nearly 12,000 minds. Not all of those people will act right away, but 58 people did take the first step on their homeownership journey by seeking out more information on our website. We can’t wait to see more and more Native families becoming homeowners!

Campaign Participants

The campaign was made possible by our stakeholders that mobilized to help spread the critical message that homeownership is possible in Native communities. We’d like to thank the following people and organizations for sharing and posting content to support a broader reach of the campaign’s messaging:

Juel Burnette

Chance Renville

CRHA Homebuyer Readiness

Andrew Boyd

Lisa Whitewing

Tony Wood

Dowell Caselli Smith

Northwest Area Foundation

GROW South Dakota

Enterprise Community Partners

Lakota Funds

Lakota Federal Credit Union

Homes are Possible, Inc.

Christine Sorensen

Ana Catches

Sweet Grass Consulting

Lesa Jarding