I am truly so proud of the South Dakota Homeownership Coalition. In 2012 when we first conceived the idea for organizing a coalition, it was out of necessity. At the time I was the State Director for USDA Rural Development. Rural Development had a great loan program that fit Indian Country well, the Section 502 Direct Loan. In spite of great staff working to get loans to tribal members on reservations, we were having difficulty reaching communities. We weren’t the only programs or lenders that were having trouble reaching tribal areas. Difficulty in reaching communities was in some ways anticipated as many barriers to homeownership exist within reservations and the systems that surround them. 

We realized we were not going to tackle these issues on our own. We decided to reach out and see if others might be interested in joining the effort. There definitely were others interested! Now, eight years later, the South Dakota Native Homeownership Coalition is a strong and dynamic coalition with over 75 partners across the state. Each year, organizations work more effectively and collaboratively to address the barriers we initially identified. We have seen the number of Native homeowners increase across our state and have increased the number of people working to support potential homeowners. I am thrilled to know that there are others out there across the country who are interested in supporting Native homeownership in their own states. I believe this toolkit provides helpful information for organizations as they get started. 

Elsie Meeks


We’re excited to know that there are leaders and community members in other states, both Native and non-Native, that are ready to lead the way to increase Native Homeownership in your communities. First and foremost, we’d like to thank Enterprise Community Partners for providing funding support to transform our model into a tangible teaching tool. Our hope is that this toolkit provides some insight into our process to develop and sustain the South Dakota Native Homeownership Coalition, tips and templates for starting your own coalition, and suggestions from our lessons learned along the way. 

Homeownership is one of the key tools available to families to increase generational wealth, improve quality of life, and enhance physical health and wellbeing. However, many Native families, have been systematically excluded from homeownership opportunities. This is particularly true in South Dakota, home to nine tribes across the state. We believe that homeownership is a crucial component in addressing Native income and wealth inequality. To increase access to homeownership for Native people, we started the South Dakota Native Homeownership Coalition. 

Since 2013, The South Dakota Native Homeownership Coalition has worked as a collaborative group of key agencies dedicated to increasing homeownership opportunities for Native Americans in the state of South Dakota. We’re a diverse group of agencies, institutions, and organizations that work to increase homeownership opportunities. Our growing group of stakeholders include approximately 75 representatives of South Dakota’s tribes, federal and state agencies, tribally designated housing entities (TDHEs), nonprofit organizations, housing developers, lenders, contractors, and community development financial institutions (CDFIs). From the outset, Coalition members recognized that addressing the challenges to Native homeownership would mean a collaborative, cross-sector effort that includes Native and non-Native partners.

So more Native Americans in South Dakota can achieve their dream of homeownership. 

The South Dakota Native Homeownership Coalition was born out of a need to expand homeownership opportunities for Native Americans in the state of South Dakota. The Coalition works to increase Native homeownership by leveraging knowledge and resources among stakeholders and other key entities. Through these synergies, we aim to revitalize our communities by creating an environment that supports Native Americans in achieving their dream of homeownership. 

The Coalition’s work helps to address the overarching need to remove barriers to homeownership in Native communities. Over the last eight years, the Coalition has studied the barriers to homeownership in tribal communities and worked with partners across the state to better understand these barriers and address them. The Coalition works to break down present day barriers that impact development and sustainability for many Native communities. 

Before a family can identify what resources are available to them, they must endure loan applications that are often times time overwhelmingly complex and discriminatory. Native communities do not have equal access to credit building opportunities; so, when loans are made available, credit scores may ruin an applicant’s chances at obtaining said loans. The consequence of these practices is that families often give up on the daunting loan application process. 

If a family were to qualify for a mortgage, there may not be a home available for them to purchase. In many tribal communities in South Dakota there are no homes available to purchase. Contractors believe residential shortages are a result of combined factors, including a shortage or perceived shortage of workforce-ready employees. Contractors have also cited a shortage in appraisers and inspectors for the delays in projects they have worked on. 

Despite these barriers and challenges, we have made incredible progress with the South Dakota Native Homeownership Coalition. We have seen great wins and changes as a result of the work of the Coalition and our partners. We are thrilled to share our pathway with you in creating and maintaining the Coalition. As you read through this we hope that you learn strategies to develop your own Native homeownership coalition. We are here to support you along the way.