Coalition Members Discuss Native American Homeownership on Freddie Mac Podcast

During the Freddie Mac Home Starts Here podcast, James Cromartie from Freddie Mac (a Tiospaye Member) and Tawney Brunsch (Executive Committee member) discuss the realities of homeownership. They outline, not only the challenges, but also the exciting headway that is being made to increase homeownership opportunities in Native communities.

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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.

Exciting Homebuyer Education Trainings on the Horizon

Based on the input of Committee members, the Coalition’s Homebuyer Readiness Committee is planning two exciting trainings this spring to support homebuyer practitioners working to teach and support new homebuyers in their communities.  We invite you to participate in these classes! Registration information will be coming soon.

Designing and Strengthening Your Homebuyer Education Program

Many of our practitioners have attended financial education and homebuyer instructor trainings and are very familiar with different training curriculums.  This training will go a step further – looking at how to design a homebuyer education program, or strengthen an existing program.  Discussion will include:

  • What should agendas cover?
  • What activities can should be included?
  • How should training modules be structured?

Through this training, participants will have an opportunity to:

  • Engage in hands-on activities to expand and practice their facilitation skills
  • Learn and test new interactive training activities
  • Create participants’ and trainers’ agendas
  • Develop pre- and post- training checklists
  • Learn new concepts related to adult education methodology

The training will provide valuable opportunities for peer sharing and discussions, and time to for participants to enhance and strengthen their new and their existing financial and homebuyer education programs.

Creating a Healthy Home 

Homeownership means more than budgets and monthly payments.  Homebuyer educators can also share important information about home maintenance and creating a healthy home environment.  In this class, we will look at practical energy-saving tips, how to make non-toxic, healthy cleaning products with readily-available materials, and how healthy homes contribute to healthy communities.  We will also spend time looking at local, native plants and their uses.

Coalition Members Learn How to Integrate Coaching into Homebuyer Readiness Programs

In November, 17 practitioners in the Native homeownership field completed a three-day training where they learned about new financial coaching methods to integrate into their programs. The training, hosted by the Coalition and co-facilitated by CNM Ingenuity and Seven Sisters Community Development Group, focused on a coaching model that is designed to empower clients. Different from the traditional case management model where practitioners advise clients, coaching asks powerful questions so that the client can identify their own goals and create their own path to attain those goals.

“This approach reminds me of how our elders talk to us. They allow silence and reflection so you know what you need to do,” says Vickie Oldman John of Seven Sisters who helped facilitate the training.

Training participants learned how to avoid reacting to crises along with several important components of coaching, such as whole body listening and personal self-talk. They also participated in several interactive exercises where they were able to put their new skills to the test.

“Learning the tools to be a financial coach has been an exciting process. It forces you to think outside the box to come up with creative questions,” says Kimberly Claymore from Cheyenne River Housing Authority.

The training also included a segment on how to integrate the coaching model into an organizational culture. This segment allowed participants to brainstorm ideas and develop plans on how to use this new method in their work with clients.

“Financial coaching is something I’ve been interested in since I began my job as an Individual Development Account coach. I plan to put my financial coaching training to immediate use,” said Elaine MatoTama Hece from the Oglala Sioux Tribe Partnership for Housing on Pine Ridge.

The financial coaching training was inspired out of a need expressed by the Coalition’s Homebuyer Readiness Committee who established it as a milestone to complete in 2017. All training participants received text book and a financial calculator.

Coalition conducts successful Post Purchase Certification Training in Pierre!

On September 22, 2016, sixteen homebuyer practitioners from around the state became certified to teach post-purchase homebuyer education in their communities.  These practitioners completed an intensive 4-day training on “Post Purchase Education Methods” sponsored by the Coalition in coordination with NeighborWorks America and Neighborworks Dakota Home Resources.

The training focused on important information for homebuyers, including:

  • Budgeting and Finances
  • Maintenance
  • Community Issues

It also included a number of hands-on maintenance activities for participants.  Participants especially liked the hands-on activities (including fixing a window screen and drywall) and the chance to get to know fellow practitioners working to assist Native families attain homeownership.

Twenty-five Practitioners Become Certified as Homebuyer Education Instructors

On May 27 – 29, 2015, twenty-five homeownership practitioners attended a three-day homebuyer education instructor certification training in Pierre, South Dakota.  The in-depth training focused on homebuyer education for Native communities. Through the session, participants became certified to teach Pathways Home homebuyer education classes in their communities.


The training was sponsored by the South Dakota Native Homeownership Coalition, in partnership with GROW South Dakota and its RCDI Initiative.  Additional support was provided by 1st Tribal Lending, Wells Fargo, and Dacotah Bank.  The training was facilitated by the National American Indian Housing Council in partnership with Seven Sisters Community Development Group.

Thirty Coalition Members Certified as Financial Education Instructors

On March 26 – 28, 2015, thirty South Dakota Native Homeownership Coalition members from across the state participated in a three three-day intensive train-the-trainer session in Pierre focusing on financial education for Native communities.  Through the session, participants became certified to teach Building Native Communities financial education classes in their communities.  Participants represented nonprofit organizations, tribal housing entities, tribal departments, and community development financial institutions.  The training was sponsored by the South Dakota Native Homeownership Coalition, in partnership with GROW South Dakota and its RCDI Initiative.  The training was facilitated by First Nations Oweesta Corporation in partnership with Seven Sisters Community Development Group.