Coalition Energized for Another Year of Impact!

On October 24-26, 2016, over 70 members of the South Dakota Native Homeownership Coalition gathered for our annual planning session and other activities held in conjunction with the South Dakota Housing Development Authority’s Annual Housing Conference in Pierre, South Dakota. The series of events provided a platform for reflecting on successes, developing collective strategies, and celebrating accomplishments.

Annual Planning Session

Coalition members participating in the planning session represented the wide range of organizations that make up the Coalition, including tribally-designated housing entities (TDHE’s), tribes, community development financial institutions (CDFIs), nonprofits, federal and state agencies, and lenders. The day’s agenda included:

  • Review of 2016 Coalition accomplishments
  • Small group break-out discussions on “hot topics”
  • Updates on housing needs studies and impact tracking efforts
  • In-person committee meetings to develop 2017 milestones
  • Reflections

State of the Coalition

Following our opening prayer and introductions, Coalition member Tawney Brunsch of Lakota Funds reviewed 2016 accomplishments and the “State of the Coalition.” She highlighted accomplishments in four areas: membership commitment, stakeholder diversity, funder support, and impact, emphasizing the importance of each to the Coalition’s success.

The Coalition also conducted a membership survey earlier this fall to track benefits and impacts; the highlights of this survey are reflected in the infographic below.




As part of the “State of the Coalition,” committee chairs highlighted the milestones that our working committees have achieved over the past year. These accomplishments included:

  • Delivering an inspector training in April 2016 to over 75 participants
  • Creating leasehold flowcharts to map out help clarify the process
  • Facilitating a post-purchase counseling certification training for 16 practitioners
  • Enhancing funding information on the Coalition’s website
  • Delivering a down payment assistance workshop at the Annual Housing Conference
  • Conducting an annual site visit to a tribal community (Cheyenne River in June 2016)
  • Hosting a Tribal Leaders’ Summit in May 2016 focusing on Native veterans’ issues
  • Facilitating a training on “Developing Successful Partnerships with Native Organizations”

New Veteran’s Homeownership Committee

After sharing these 2016 accomplishments, Coalition members had the opportunity to participate in small group discussions on “hot topics,” including:

  • Native veterans homeownership issues
  • Development of a construction internship program with local colleges
  • Enhancing the Coalition’s communication efforts
  • Income-generating strategies for the Coalition’s long-term sustainability

While each small group had productive discussions and developed clear next steps, the highlight of these discussions was the creation of the new veterans’ homeownership committee. The committee will be co-chaired by Secretary of the South Dakota Department of Veterans Affairs, Larry Zimmerman, and Manaja Hill, the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe’s Veteran Service Officer.

Impact Tracking Database Development

As a statewide Coalition, we know that tracking our impact is critical to our work and long-term sustainability. The Coalition is partnering with Sweet Grass Consulting to design and implement a data tracking system to capture the efforts of individual Coalition member organizations. The information we are tracking focuses on training, coaching, and home loan packages and approvals.

Following lunch, Coalition members had the opportunity to learn more about these efforts. Colleen Steele of Mazaska and Elaine Kennedy of Hunkpati joined Michael Brydge of Sweet Grass Consulting in discussing the tool, describing their experience with the tool, and emphasizing the benefits that data can provide for their individual organizations as well as the Coalition.

Housing Needs Studies Progress Report

Attendees then learned about the Housing Needs Studies the Coalition has facilitated for the Cheyenne River Housing Authority (CRHA) and the Rosebud Economic Development Corporation (REDCO). With the support of the South Dakota Housing Development Authority, Big Water Consulting has worked with staff of CRHA and REDCO to design and carry out studies to support their homeownership efforts. Sharon Vogel of CRHA and Taffy Lafferty of REDCO joined Kevin Klingbeil of Big Water to share how the studies were conducted and their value in designing homeownership projects.

Establishing 2017 Milestones

The planning session also provided the opportunity for Coalition members to conduct in-person committee meetings to review 2016 milestones and plan 2017 milestones. Some of the 2017 milestones include:

  • Development of a pilot construction internship program
  • Follow-up inspector training focused on certification exam preparation (January 2017)
  • Financial coaching certification training for homebuyer practitioners
  • Loan packaging training for the Native American Direct Loan (VA)
  • Annual visit to tribal community


Participants concluded the planning session by sharing their reflections on the day, and the Coalition overall. Some of these reflections included:

  • Today was a great day.
  • Adding the veterans committee was a great move.
  • Glad to be part of this movement – we learn something new every time.
  • Homeownership is a “revolution.”
  • It takes a village – we are all part of the puzzle.
  • Excited that North Dakota is here to learn.
  • It’s great to the VA here.
  • Warms my heart to see returning members and new members stepping up.

Native Homeownership Track of Sessions

Beyond the planning session, the Coalition also organized the Native Homeownership Track of Sessions at the Annual Housing Conference, which included five workshops:

  • Preparing a Workforce to Increase Housing Stock for Native Homeowners: Thunder Valley’s Innovative Workforce Development Program
  • Increasing Homeownership Opportunities for Native Veterans
  • Making Native Homeownership Affordable: Sources of Downpayment Assistance
  • Tips for Effective Grant Management
  • Everyone Has a Voice: the Importance of Policy Work to Promote Native Homeownership

The workshops were very well-attended, and participants appreciated the chance to tackle challenges together, learn from one another, and hear about successful strategies to increase homeownership for Native families in South Dakota.