Coalition Members Visit Cheyenne River to Learn About Homeownership Efforts

On June 29, 2016, over fifty members of the SD Native Homeownership Coalition visited the Cheyenne River Reservation, the Coalition’s third annual visit to a tribal community. In 2014, Coalition members visited the Pine Ridge Reservation and in 2015, members visited the Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate. Coalition partners on the Cheyenne River tour/convening represented TDHEs, Native and non-Native nonprofit organizations, Native and non-Native CDFIs, federal partners (including USDA, HUD, and the VA), and state partners (including the SD Housing Development Authority and the Department of Tribal Relations).

The day started in Mobridge, with an opening prayer, welcome remarks by Sharon Vogel, the Executive Director of the Cheyenne River Housing Authority, introductions, and milestone updates from the Coalition’s different committees. From Mobridge, Coalition members traveled by bus to Eagle Butte, a two-hour trip. On the way, partners saw a diverse mixture of homeownership homes that ranged from CRHA Mutual Help homes to mortgage loan financing (VA, USDA, HUD-ONAP 184), and visited the White Horse community. The bus trip provided the opportunity for Coalition members to visit with one another, see the remote and isolated nature of Cheyenne River communities, and gain an understanding of the pros and cons of these locations.

In Eagle Butte, Coalition partners visited the impressive hospital staff quarters neighborhood, and saw the 160 acre Badger Park site that the Housing Authority is developing. With infrastructure in place, including utility service lines, curbs, gutters, and road, the Housing Authority is scheduled to start having homes go up within the year. Coalition members were impressed by the site, and are looking forward to a return visit to see completed homes.

After visiting the Badger Park site, Coalition members convened for lunch, with remarks by Tribal Chairman Harold Frazier and Bush Fellow Eileen Briggs. Lunch included a birthday cake to celebrate the third birthday of the Coalition – the group’s first convening was held on June 27, 2016 in Pierre! Following lunch, Coalition members convened at the Oglala Lakota College/Cheyenne River College Center for a series of afternoon discussions. After a welcome by Dave West, Jr., the Center Director, Taffy Lafferty and Sharon Vogel shared the preliminary results of their organizations’ housing needs assessments, which are being facilitated by the Coalition and supported by the SD Housing Development Authority. Coalition members then met with three homeowners to learn about some of the challenges they encountered, and then Sharon reviewed the key steps to homeownership.

Overall, it was a packed day, and participants reported that they were very impressed by the work of the Cheyenne River Housing Authority, and appreciated “covering the reservation where the action is.”