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Native Homeownership Coalition Continues its Work in South Dakota

South Dakota United States Department of Agriculture Rural Development State Director Elsie Meeks (right) meets with Colleen Steele, Executive Director, Mazaska Owecaso Otipi Financial. USDA photo.

South Dakota United States Department of Agriculture Rural Development State Director Elsie Meeks (right) meets with Colleen Steele, Executive Director, Mazaska Owecaso Otipi Financial. USDA photo.

“Being a homeowner is absolutely rewarding to my family and me. Owning my own home means stability, safety and accomplishment in our lives,” said Stephanie Richards-Apple.  She purchased her home through Mazaska Owecaso Otipi Financial.  Mazaska is a partner to USDA Rural Development in South Dakota and a member of the South Dakota Native Homeownership Coalition (Coalition).   Richards-Apple worked with Mazaska to make the step from tenant to homeowner.  Her story highlights the importance of the work of the South Dakota Native Homeownership Coalition.

The Coalition is a partnership of Federal and State agencies, Housing Development Authorities and non-profit entities that share the common goal of improving Native homeownership in South Dakota.  South Dakota Rural Development State Director Elsie Meeks welcomed over 50 participants at a coalition-sponsored training session in Pierre, SD and stated “We strive to advocate and strengthen families and Native communities through homeownership; it isn’t often that the Native and non-native housing organizations get to learn from each other.”

Colleen Steele, Executive Director of Mazaska Owecaso Otipi Financial, spoke about the importance of the Coalition offering, “The Coalition lets housing authorities and resource providers connect with each other and see what other tribes are doing.  It makes me realize what could be possible for our tribe.  We need to make sure the Coalition is here for the long run because we really need it.”

The training addressed home buyer readiness and different ways to prepare families through counseling and education that can help ensure that families can successfully purchase, maintain, and retain their home.  Nick Tilsen attended the training as Executive Director for Thunder Valley Community Development Corporation explaining, “We are here to talk about families owning their own home, but we are also here to work towards the creation of assets for Native families and a pathway out of poverty.”

To find out more about USDA housing programs click here.  To find out more about USDA’s outreach to Native Americans click here.

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