Three Native American nonprofit organizations – Four Bands Community Fund, Lakota Funds, and Mazaska Owecaso Otipi Financial – have been designated as partners in the SD CARES Housing Assistance Program (SDCHAP) to provide up to $1,500 in rental, mortgage, or utility assistance to families that have been financially impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. The South Dakota Housing Development Authority (SDHDA) was awarded $10 million by the State of South Dakota to launch and administer SDCHAP.

“Knowing that low-income and minority communities have been hardest hit by the pandemic, we are grateful that the South Dakota Housing Development Authority has actively engaged Native American organizations to ensure funds are directed where they are needed most,” says Tawney Brunsch, Executive Director of Lakota Funds.

SDHDA opened the online SDCHAP application on October 22, 2020 and will be accepting applications until December 18, 2020, or sooner if funds are expended. To provide assistance with families that don’t have reliable internet access and to help process applications, SDHDA has partnered with a total of 11 organizations, just under a third of which are located on Indian reservations.

“Since COVID hit, we have seen financial burdens manifest in different ways. We can really help a lot of people with this program and are glad to be a part of it,” says Colleen Steele, Executive Director of Mazaska.

The SDCHAP application can be found at Four Bands is assisting applicants in Dewey, Ziebach, Wallworth, Corson, Hughes, Stanley, Buffalo, and Brule Counties. Lakota Funds is supporting applicants in Oglala Lakota, Jackson and Bennett Counties. Mazaska is covering Oglala Lakota, Jackson, Bennett, Fall River, Pennington, Meade, Lawrence, Todd, and Custer Counties.

All three Native organizations and SDHDA are members of the South Dakota Native Homeownership Coalition and have been working collaboratively in various capacities over the past several years to increase homeownership opportunities for Native Americans throughout the state.

“All of the program partners are dedicated to making their communities a better place, and this is an opportunity to preserve progress on so many different levels. There is power in partnerships,” says Lakota Vogel, Executive Director of Four Bands.