Coalition Seats Inaugural Board of Directors

With June as National Homeownership Month as a fitting backdrop, the South Dakota Native Homeownership Coalition introduced our initial Board of Directors to our membership base and a myriad of partner organizations who were in attendance at our Annual Tour & Convening in Flandreau, South Dakota. The Board of Directors is comprised of:

  • Chairwoman: Sharon Vogel, Executive Director of Cheyenne River Housing Authority
  • Vice Chairman: Eric Shepherd, Executive Director of Sisseton Wahpeton Housing Authority
  • Secretary: Tawney Brunsch, Executive Director of Lakota Funds
  • Treasurer: Lori Moen, Chief Operating Officer of GROW South Dakota
  • Members: Juel Burnette III, Branch Manager of First Tribal Lending; Tatewin Means, Executive Director of Thunder Valley Community Development Corporation; Lorraine Polak, Executive Director of South Dakota Housing Development Authority; Colleen Steele, Executive Director of Mazaska Owecaso Otipi Financial; Lakota Vogel, Executive Director of Four Bands Community Fund

“Seating the Board is a major milestone in formalizing our operations and strengthening our programming. We have a great group of dedicated, diverse, and knowledgeable professionals, many of whom have been supporting the Coalition since its inception,” says Chairwoman Sharon Vogel.

The Coalition’s Annual Tour & Convening was a three-day event comprised of a planning day, a site visit, committee meetings, and a lender symposium. The event was attended by 72 individuals representing tribes, regional and national nonprofit organizations, state and federal legislators, lenders, and various federal agencies. In addition to South Dakota, attendees traveled from Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Texas, Utah, Virginia, and Wyoming, to examine successful models and engage in discussions surrounding Native American homeownership.

“The level of participation we had from across the country demonstrates the strong support we have, not only from our tribal communities, but also from a wide range of partner organizations and government agencies that are aligning their efforts in order to create more homeownership opportunities for Native Americans,” says Sharon Vogel.

Despite economic impacts from the COVID-19 pandemic, demand for homeownership in South Dakota’s Native American communities has continued to grow. Collectively, the members of the Coalition deployed 85 home-related loans totaling $6.4 million in 2021, representing more than a 57% increase in number of loans and 20% increase in value of loans from 2020. More than half of the 2021 borrowers were first-time homebuyers, and 89% of the loans were deployed on or near Indian reservations. To make homeownership possible for the low-income communities they serve, members of the Coalition delivered 46 homeownership trainings along with 237 hours of customized assistance to borrowers and connected homebuyers to an average of $5,365 in subsidies.

“The impact numbers deliver a clear message. Despite long-standing, systemic barriers, our membership base is utilizing effective strategies to create homeownership opportunities for Native American families. People throughout the nation are taking note and adapting these models in their communities,” states Sharon Vogel.


Meet our newest team member!

Please join us in welcoming Rita Weatherbee.

We are excited to introduce you to Rita Weatherbee, our new Project Coordinator. Rita comes to the Coalition with 27 years of experience working for the State of South Dakota in various capacities, most recently for the Department of Tourism. Although Rita was semi-retired, her passion for homeownership led her to apply for the Project Coordinator position. She believes that homeownership should be possible for everyone. In her role as Project Coordinator, she will be working closely with Elias Mendoza, Project Director, as the Coalition transitions to an independent nonprofit organization. In addition, she will be providing administrative support to our working committees, tracking data, and managing and reporting on grants.


Request for Proposals for Strategic Planning Facilitation

The Coalition is undertaking a strategic planning process to examine our history, analyze successes and challenges, and formulate strategic directions and goals for the future.

Specifically, we’re seeking a consultant to provide the following services:

  1. Information gathering in preparation for strategic planning session (which may include key stakeholder/Board interviews and/or stakeholder/Board survey);
  2. Agenda development in collaboration with Board subcommittee;
  3. Preparation of handouts and support materials;
  4. Facilitation of 2-day in-person session tentatively set for early September 2022; and
  5. Preparation of follow-up materials from the session, including a three-year strategic plan and one-year work plan.

We encourage interested parties to read the full RFP for an overview of this project and the Coalition’s history, more details on what proposals should include, evaluation criteria, and submission requirements.

Download Full RFP

Proposals should be sent no later than April 15, 2022 to:

Tawney Brunsch
Executive Director, Lakota Funds
Fiscal Agent, South Dakota Native Homeownership Coalition
P.O. Box 340
Kyle, South Dakota 57752
605-455-2500
tbrunsch@lakotafunds.org

Questions about this RFP should be directed to Ms. Brunsch.


We are hiring a Project Coordinator!

After working as an informal coalition for the past seven years, we are now working towards becoming an independent, stand-alone organization. We have created a new staff position, the Project Coordinator, to support and manage this transition.

This role is for you if you…

  • Are committed to increasing homeownership opportunities for Native families in SD;
  • Would like to support our Coalition’s transition from an informal coalition to an independent, stand-alone organization;
  • Are a self-starter, who thrives working on your own;
  • Are a bridge-builder, who can support connections between member organizations;
  • Are comfortable working remotely;
  • Have strong writing and communication skills;
  • Have experience in affordable homeownership or community development; and
  • Have a track record of moving ideas into action.

 

Primary responsibilities:

  • Support the Project Director with the Administration for Native Americans (ANA) Social and Economic Development grant project.
  • Provide administrative support for the Coalition’s organizational development process including incorporation, recruitment of Board members, and adoption of Bylaws.
  • Schedule meetings and record minutes for the Coalition’s steering committee and eventually the Board of Directors.
  • Enter data into Salesforce database to track Coalition activities, outputs and outcomes.
  • Provide administrative support to the Coalition’s working committees, as directed.
  • Coordinate events, workshops and trainings.
  • Provide administrative support for grants management and annual ANA reporting requirements.

 

Download Full Job Description

To Apply

Please send a cover letter and resume by February 25, 2022 to:

Tawney Brunsch, Executive Director
Lakota Funds
P.O. Box 340
Kyle, SD 57752

Email: tbrunsch@lakotafunds.org


Coalition to Implement $1.5 Million Project to Develop Independent Nonprofit

The South Dakota Native Homeownership Coalition is pleased to announce that we have received a grant award from the Department of Health and Human Services’ Administration for Native Americans (ANA) that will provide over a million dollars in funding aimed at establishing an independent statewide nonprofit organization. The ANA grant will provide $1.2 million of the total $1.5 million project budget over a three-year period.

“We are in gratitude as we acknowledge this major support from the Administration for Native Americans. This is a very exciting advancement in the Coalition’s growth and development process,” says Elias Mendoza, Program Director of the Coalition.

Mendoza will be working closely with the Coalition’s Executive Committee to build the organizational infrastructure needed to transition the group from an informal coalition to a sustainable Native-led nonprofit organization. Since our inception eight years ago, we have been operating largely with consultant and volunteer support, and Lakota Funds, a community loan fund based on the Pine Ridge Reservation, has been serving as our fiscal agent. Earlier this year, Mendoza was hired as the Coalition’s first full-time staff member, a major step in our organizational development process.

“The South Dakota Native Homeownership Coalition is a very active and dynamic group of leaders in the Native homeownership field, and it has been growing at a rapid pace for several years. This funding support will enable the Coalition to continue following that trajectory of progress,” says Tawney Brunsch, Executive Director of Lakota Funds and also Executive Committee Member of the Coalition.

The Coalition was one of 75 organizations that received a total of $19.9 million in funding from ANA’s 2021 grant cycle.


Welcome Elias!

Welcome Elias!

Elias Mendoza joins the Coalition as Program Director. 

The Coalition is pleased to announce we have hired Elias Mendoza (Sisseton-Wahpeton Sioux Tribe) as our Program Director. This is a major step in our journey to become an independent nonprofit organization. As the Coalition’s first full-time staff person, Elias will guide the organizational development process and interface with our five working committees. 

“I am thrilled to be a part of the South Dakota Native Homeownership Coalition and look forward to working with other passionate people across the state to create a clear path to homeownership for our Native families,” says Elias.

Elias became familiar with the Coalition by serving as a partner site for our Construction Internship Program in 2019. At the time, he was the Program Director for Sisseton-Wahpeton’s 477/Employment Training Service Center, a unique program that co-mingles the Tribe’s adult education, workforce development, and Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) programs to leverage resources and maximize effectiveness. By working together with the Sisseton-Wahpeton Housing Authority, Elias and his team brought five interns through the Construction Internship Program with a 100% completion rate. 

When he saw the announcement for our Program Director position a few months ago, he thought, “This is something I know I can put all of my passion into. This is something I would love to see grow.” 

Elias is looking forward to leveraging his skills and experience to build bridges between tribal, state, and federal agencies in his new role. He is also passionate about creating pathways to homeownership for Native people. Elias brings over 10 years of experience in executive support, staff training and development, and project planning to the Coalition.

Although born in Los Angeles, California, he spent much of his early childhood on and around the Lake Traverse Reservation. After obtaining his Bachelor’s degree in Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences from North Dakota State University and working in several metropolitan areas across the country, in 2012, Elias finally moved back home to Sisseton where he currently resides. 


Coalition Celebrates Upward Trend in Native American Homeownership During National Homeownership Month

In recognition of June as National Homeownership Month, the South Dakota Native Homeownership Coalition hosted a virtual celebration where nearly 40 stakeholders from national, state, and tribal levels gathered to share their successes in creating homeownership opportunities for Native American families. The Coalition is also supporting several member organizations as they host local homeownership celebrations throughout the state by providing small housewarming gifts for approximately 100 Native American homeowners.

During the virtual celebration, the Coalition announced they have hired Elias Mendoza (Sisseton-Wahpeton Sioux Tribe) as the Program Director. This is a major step in the Coalition’s journey to become an independent nonprofit organization. As the Coalition’s first full-time staff person, Mendoza will guide the organizational development process and interface with the Coalition’s working committees.

“I am thrilled to be a part of the South Dakota Native Homeownership Coalition and look forward to working with other passionate people across the state to create a clear path to homeownership for our Native families,” says Mendoza.

Also during the event, the Coalition revealed new data showing tremendous growth in Native American homeownership in 2020, despite the COVID-19 pandemic. From 2019 to 2020, Coalition member organizations reported a 126% increase in home loan volume as well as an 80% increase in the number of new homeowners. Nearly all loans closed (94%) were on Indian reservations. There was also an upward trend in funding support for Native organizations from the South Dakota Housing Development Authority’s Homeownership Education Resource Organization (HERO) program. A copy of the full data report can be viewed here.

“The growth in Native American homeownership demonstrates just how hard our partners and practitioners are working in Native communities. We have accomplishments on so many levels to celebrate,” says Tawney Brunsch, Executive Director of Lakota Funds, which serves as the fiscal agent for the Coalition.

Several recent developments are creating a favorable outlook on the policy horizon for Native American homeownership, which will support further growth in this sector. The U.S. Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Subcommittee on Housing held their first hearing of the year on “Housing for Native Americans: Review of Federal Programs, Barriers, and Opportunities” where Eric Shepherd, Executive Director of Sisseton Wahpeton Housing Authority, and also Coalition member, testified. This was the first time the Senate Housing Subcommittee held a hearing on Indian housing issues in over a decade! In addition, the hearing illuminated the strong, bi-partisanship collaboration between Chairman Tina Smith (D-MN) and Ranking Minority Member Mike Rounds (R-SD). Furthermore, the Coalition is participating in the South Dakota Legislature’s 2021 Interim Study on Workforce Housing Needs to examine challenges and opportunities in housing for low- and moderate-income individuals and families throughout the state.

“It is great to see Native American representation in these policy discussions. We’re moving in the right direction to create an inclusive economy,” says Mendoza.


Native Homeownership Protection Program Launches Phase II!

Recognizing the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on Native homebuyers in South Dakota, the South Dakota Native Homeownership Coalition has developed our Native Homeownership Protection Program (NHPP).

Program Overview

Through the first phase of the NHPP, we have provided relief funds to qualified homeowners and small business clients impacted by COVID-19. Through Phase II, we are assisting member organizations in providing foreclosure prevention/post purchase coaching, education, and support to their clients. This support can include:

  • Conducting one-on-one coaching sessions with clients experiencing difficulties in making mortgage payments,
  • Assisting mortgage clients in reaching out to their lenders to negotiate loan modifications,
  • Teaching post-purchase education classes,
  • Providing post-purchase coaching, and
  • Assisting clients in accessing available resources to offset the economic impacts of the pandemic.

NHPP – Phase II assistance will be provided on a reimbursement basis at the rate of $150/client for one-on-one support or group/classroom education that was delivered beginning July 1, 2020.

Download Application

Eligibility Guidelines

To participate in the Coalition’s NHPP – Phase II program, organizations must:

  • Be a member of the South Dakota Native Homeownership Coalition (To get current on membership dues or to become a new member, go to sdnativehomeownershipcoalition.org/joinus.)
  • Be current on Coalition data reporting requirements
  • Agree to submit a monthly report/reimbursement request

Steps to Participate in the NHPP – Phase II

Complete a brief NHPP – Phase II application.

Attend virtual program orientation session.

Provide foreclosure prevention/post purchase support to clients.

Submit monthly grant reimbursement request forms.

Download Application

Completed applications can be submitted via email to Leslie Newman at leslie@7sistersconsulting.com.


Thank you to our program sponsor!


We’re Hiring!

We are currently seeking to fill a Program Director position.

After working as an informal coalition for the past seven years, we are now working towards becoming an independent, stand-alone organization. We have created a new staff position to support and manage this transition.

This role is for you if you…

  • Are committed to increasing homeownership opportunities for Native families in SD;
  • Would like to support our Coalition’s transition from an informal coalition to an independent, stand-alone organization;
  • Are a self-starter, who thrives working on your own;
  • Are a bridge-builder, who can support connections between member organizations;
  • Are comfortable working remotely;
  • Have strong writing and communication skills;
  • Have experience in affordable homeownership or community development; and
  • Have a track record of moving ideas into action.

Download Full Job Description

To Apply

Please send a cover letter and resume by April 16, 2021 to:

Tawney Brunsch, Executive Director
Lakota Funds
PO Box 340
Kyle, SD  57752

Email: tbrunsch@lakotafunds.org


Senator Mike Rounds (R-SD) Hosts Listening Session on VA Native American Direct Home Loan Reform

Senator Mike Rounds (R-SD) and the South Dakota Native Homeownership Coalition held a listening session recently as part of the Senator’s efforts to reform the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Native American Direct Loan (NADL) program. In addition to participation from Senator Rounds, his staff, and Coalition members, the listening session featured testimonies about the NADL home loan process from several Native American veterans.

During the session, Senator Rounds told participants, “We need to fix the NADL program so it actually benefits our Native Americans in South Dakota.”

“Native veterans shouldn’t have to go to battle to get an NADL mortgage,” said Geri Opsal, Co-Chair of the Coalition’s Veteran’s Homeownership Committee and Tribal Veterans Service Officer for the Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate. “They should have the same access to their VA benefit as any other veteran applying for a VA guarantee loan off the reservation.”

“We really appreciate Senators Rounds’ leadership on this issue,” said Tawney Brunsch, Executive Director of Lakota Funds. “During our discussions, you could tell he really understood how important it is for Native veterans to have ‘boots on the ground’ to help them through the mortgage lending process.”

With an average of only 20 NADL applications being approved nationwide each year, Senator Rounds has engaged the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee to explore solutions that would provide Native American veterans with meaningful access to the benefits they have earned. Those efforts included a request to the Government Accountability Office to conduct a thorough review of the NADL program, which will be a crucial step toward systemic change.