“Friend of Housing Award” Goes to Elsie Meeks

First-Ever Native American Recipient of Award

South Dakota Housing Development Authority (SDHDA) awarded Elsie Meeks with the “Friend of Housing” award during SDHDA’s 25th Annual Housing Conference held earlier this week in Pierre. Ms. Meeks was honored for her dedication and contribution to affordable housing in South Dakota. She has used innovation and determination to ensure that all South Dakotans have access to safe and affordable housing.

“Elsie was chosen as the recipient of the Friend of Housing Award by being a true leader and by not being afraid to fight for what is right,” said Mark Lauseng, Executive Director of SDHDA. “She serves as a valuable resource to our state on a variety of housing related issues and is always up for a challenge.”

Meeks has had a career of “firsts” and a long string of innovative successes promoting affordable housing. She helped South Dakota make national history through the first ever low-income housing tax credit project to be financed on tribal land and she was the first Native American to serve on the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights. In addition, Meeks also brought together key representatives from the South Dakota Housing Development Authority, Governor’s Office, Rural Development and the Department of Tribal Relations to form the South Dakota Native Homeownership Coalition to work together to ensure that housing programs effectively reach Native communities and increase Native homeownership rates.

Ms. Meeks’ career includes over 20 years of experience working to promote economic and community development first as the president/CEO of First Nations Oweesta Corporation and then as the state director of USDA Rural Development.

Even in her retirement, Ms. Meeks remains committed and dedicated to promoting affordable housing. She serves as a member of the Board of Directors of the Federal Home Loan Bank of Des Moines, executive committee member of the South Dakota Native Homeownership Coalition, chairperson of the Board of Directors of Lakota Funds and a member of the Board of Directors of the Northwest Area Foundation.

The Friend of Housing Award was started 16 years ago to recognize individuals and/or companies who are instrumental in providing affordable housing in South Dakota. Annually, SDHDA accepts nominations for the award and announces the recipient at their annual housing conference.