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South Dakota Partnership Helps Native American Families Own Their Future through Homeownership

“Our home is a beautiful white house with a porch and a creek runs through our backyard,” said Joe Donnell. “There is lots of space for our family to grow. This house is an amazing gift from the Lord!”

“Our home is a beautiful white house with a porch and a creek runs through our backyard,” said Joe Donnell. “There is lots of space for our family to grow. This house is an amazing gift from the Lord!”

With their family of eight, Myron Doud and Stephanie Richards were in tight quarters when they were living with Myron’s parents in a four-bedroom house.  Like them, Joe and Danielle Donnell and their young one had resided with Danielle’s family.

“Our daughter was very excited about her new bedroom, and she wasn’t even scared to sleep in a room all by herself!” said Stephanie Richards. “The kids now have room to have sleep-overs with their friends and a nice backyard to play.”

These South Dakota families, like many starting out in rural America, just needed a little assistance to begin their lives — and begin building assets for the future — as homeowners.  They found the help they needed through USDA Rural Development’s Direct Housing Loan, which offers 100-percent, affordable mortgages to rural homebuyers who cannot access affordable conventional financing.

These families are the first to benefit from a new agreement among USDA Rural Development, Dacotah Bank, Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate Housing Authority, and the Federal Home Loan Bank of Des Moines Native American Homeownership Initiative.  These groups are working together to leverage USDA Rural Development’s affordable financing with up to $10,000 in grant assistance for down payment and other up-front costs to help Native American families achieve homeownership on the Lake Traverse Reservation, a financially distressed, StrikeForce community where USDA is providing targeted assistance and where there are few housing options.

In addition to the other partners, the nonprofit Grow South Dakota assists applicants in packaging their financial assistance applications.

“This partnership is a model that could be used to assist more Native American families achieve homeownership in areas where there are few housing options,” said Rick Bloxham, Homeownership Manager for the Federal Home Loan Bank of Des Moines.

“Most of Dacotah Bank’s footprint is rural and housing is a critical need in our communities across South Dakota, North Dakota, and Minnesota,” said Rodney Fouberg, Chairman of the Board for Dacotah Bank, Inc.  “It is not only an honor to work closely with the various resource professionals on this type of a program, but it is a responsibility.”

“We at the Sisseton-Wahpeton Housing Authority see the importance of encouraging our members to pursue homeownership opportunities. It’s just a win-win situation for everyone,” said Floyd Kirk, Executive Director of the Sisseton Wahpeton Housing Authority.

Homeownership is a critical step on the ladder of opportunity, providing financial stability, self-worth, and security for rural families.  The Doud, Richards, and Donnell families exemplify the commitment the Obama Administration has made to bring resources to rural America to provide decent, affordable housing to those who need it, and those of us at USDA Rural Development are proud to help them own their future.

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