During the South Dakota Native Homeownership Coalition’s first-ever Annual Membership Meeting, the Wells Fargo Foundation announced a $1.7 million grant award from its Invest Native initiative to support the Coalition’s continued growth and development, including creating a new housing development subsidiary to support tribal communities in their efforts to increase the number of safe and affordable homes.

“As the Bank of Doing, our goal is to work alongside Native communities and continue a dialogue around how we can best support local leaders and their work,” stated Otis Rolley, president of the Wells Fargo Foundation. “The collaborative approach of the South Dakota Native Homeownership Coalition is highly effective in creating more access to resources and empowering more Native homeowners.”

This grant is part of Invest Native, a $20 million philanthropic initiative by Wells Fargo to strengthen housing access and affordability, small business growth and sustainability in Native communities across six states.

“We are grateful to Wells Fargo for investing in statewide coalitions like ours that bring together partners who develop innovative strategies to help Native families overcome the barriers associated with homeownership in Indian Country,” said Cheryce Not Afraid, Director of the Coalition.

At today’s meeting, the Coalition also announced its new down payment assistance program designed to increase home affordability for South Dakota’s Native American families and close the state’s racial homeownership gap, which currently lies at 35.7%. The program, which was supported by previously awarded funding from Wells Fargo and the Northwest Area Foundation, will infuse $500,000 of down payment funds into South Dakota’s Native communities, resulting in at least 50 new Native homeowners.

Also of significance during the Coalition’s Annual Membership Meeting, U.S. Senator Mike Rounds (R-SD) provided an update on several pieces of federal legislation he is advancing to support increased rates of Native American homeownership, including efforts to reform the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Native American Direct Loan, to expand the U.S. Department of Agriculture 502 home loan relending demonstration, and to streamline the Bureau of Indian Affairs mortgage approval process.

“The Coalition has achieved some critical milestones today,” said Sharon Vogel, Coalition Chairwoman and Executive Director of the Cheyenne River Housing Authority. “Throughout our ten-year history, we’ve strived to make it easier to achieve homeownership. Since 2016, Coalition members have supported 253 Native families to become homeowners. As we expand our programming and continue to remove federal policy impediments, that number will only get higher.”