Freddie Mac rolls out affordable housing program for Native Americans

The program is designed to increase access to affordable mortgages for tribal members living in tribal areas

Freddie Mac announced on Wednesday a new affordable housing program, “HeritageOne,” that is intended to boost homeownership rates in Native American communities.

The program aims to provide affordable financing options for single-family properties on tribal lands found in rural areas of the nation. The goal is to widen homeownership access in these communities.

“With HeritageOne, we are again breaking new ground in our efforts to safely and responsibly expand opportunities in traditionally underserved communities,” said Sonu Mittal, single-family SVP of acquisitions at Freddie Mac. “Our commitment to make home possible for Native American families not only requires long-term planning and prudent execution, but strong partnerships with industry members and tribal leaders. Through this collaboration, we can help create more affordable mortgage options in tribal lands and rural areas.”

The program will also provide financial counseling services and other resources to members of Native American tribes, and will place an emphasis on first-time homebuyers in particular.

“The limited access to affordable mortgage financing options has affected our communities for far too long and it has impacted the ability of our members to build generational wealth through homeownership,” Tawney Brunsch, executive director of Lakota Funds, said. “HeritageOne can help break down these walls, providing greater access to responsible homeownership and broader economic opportunities through financial counseling for our historically underserved communities. We look forward to making HeritageOne widespread in tribal lands.”

Freddie Mac describes Lakota Funds as “the first-ever Native community development financial institution on tribal lands.”

In order to qualify for HeritageOne, at least one borrower who will occupy the property as a primary resident must be enrolled in a federally recognized Native American tribe. Additional information is available by visiting the online portal.

The intention underpinning HeritageOne was previously laid out in Freddie Mac’s “Duty to Serve Plan” for 2022-2024, detailing the organization’s commitment to provide additional housing support to rural Native American communities.

That plan also intends to assist Native Americans with expanded financing for manufactured housing on tribal lands; expanded mortgage financing options through community development financial institutions (CDFIs); and increased affordable rental housing opportunities for Native Americans on tribal lands.

Native American housing issues have been pushed to the forefront by lawmakers in recent months. In May, a group of senators introduced new legislation that would make permanent a U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) pilot program that provides mortgages to Native American communities through partnerships with CDFIs.

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) announced in March that it would lower the Native American Direct Loan (NADL) program interest rate from 6% to 2.5% in an effort to make housing loans more affordable for Native American military veterans and to spur use of the underutilized program.

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