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.” Read more »
Retiring of colors at the end of the ceremony by the Sisseton-Wahpeton Vietnam Veterans Kit Fox Society honor guard.
USDA Rural Development Deputy Under Secretary Patrice Kunesh recently joined Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate Tribal and community members for the dedication of the Tribe’s new administration building, which was constructed with a $31.2 million Community Facilities loan from USDA. The Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate Tribe resides on the Lake Traverse Reservation in northeastern South Dakota and southeastern North Dakota, primarily in Roberts County.
“This impressive building is the result of the largest Community Facilities loan that Rural Development in South Dakota has ever made,” Kunesh said. “The building will serve as a central hub to help Tribal members with their social, educational, and housing needs.” Read more »
The 8th Annual Governor’s Native American Summit was held last week at Utah Valley University in Salt Lake City, Utah. Utah’s Rural Development State Director Wilson “David” Conine wanted to share with attendees the importance a community development financial institution (CDFI) can play in tribal development. He turned to his counterpart, South Dakota Rural Development State Director Elsie M. Meeks who has over 20 years of experience working for Native community economic development.
Meeks recognized CDFI as an important part of the infrastructure for delivering consistent funding for housing and small business development activities that benefit low and moderate income people. They combine multiple sources of public and private capital in order to make loans and investments available in ways tailored to the particular underserved geographies and types of businesses or borrowers. Developing capacity among these types of organizations can increase utilization of USDA programs in a region, many of which provide long-term below-market capital for permanent improvements in rural areas. Read more »
Federal, State, and Tribal partners work on a solution to bring safe, affordable housing to South Dakota’s tribal areas. USDA photo.
South Dakota USDA Rural Development, Governor’s Office of Economic Development, South Dakota Housing Development Authority (SDHDA), and the Great Plains Native Asset Building Coalition convened a vital meeting of stakeholders recently to gain input on the creation of a statewide coalition to support and promote homeownership in South Dakota Native communities.
Six of the nine Indian reservations in South Dakota, including representatives of six Indian housing authorities participated in the session, as well as Nathan Sanderson of the Governor’s Office of Economic Development. In addition to USDA Rural Development, federal stakeholders included the Departments of Housing and Urban Development, Veterans Affairs, and Indian Health Service. About 50 people gathered for a daylong working session to provide critical impute on the goals and priorities of a proposed coalition. Read more »
Crow Creek MOU signing – Pictured left to right are Bruce Jones, USDA Rural Development Acting Housing Director; Brandon Sazue Sr., Crow Creek Sioux Tribal Chairman; Leeann Piskule, Crow Creek Housing Authority Residential Services Coordinator; Paula Corcoran, USDA Rural Development Loan Specialist; Lori Moen, GROW South Dakota Chief Operating Officer; Ronnette Kirkie-Walton, Crow Creek Housing Authority Acting Chief Executive Officer; Terry Abernathy, Crow Creek Sioux Tribal Secretary; and Wayne McGhee Crow Creek Sioux Tribal Councilman.
Recently, Crow Creek Sioux Tribal Chairman Brandon Sazue Sr. joined USDA Rural Development Acting Housing Director Bruce Jones and Lori Moen, Chief Operating Officer for GROW South Dakota (GROW) in the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding that will streamline the process towards increased homeownership on the Crow Creek Indian Reservation. “What we do today can make a difference for tomorrow. By working together, we support the betterment of our Tribe as we know housing is much needed on our Reservation” said Chairman Sazue Sr. Read more »
Last fall, South Dakota USDA Rural Development highlighted a valuable partner; GROW South Dakota, formerly known as the Northeast South Dakota Economic Corporation, for its 18 year partnership in community lending. While giving back to the communities they serve, GROW South Dakota has also contributed to the region as a whole through its fiscal administrative support of regional planning and development through a Rural Business Enterprise Grant (RBEG) and a Rural Business Opportunity Grant (RBOG).
Said South Dakota State Director Elsie Meeks, “The total impact that GROW has had is not just measured in loans made or jobs created; they have assisted in the stabilization and creation of thriving, vibrant communities in rural South Dakota.” USDA funds have been used to develop and provide web-based technical assistance for the region’s partnering organizations and for a regional website that provides a central link to local organizations and expertise for the current technology and available social media. Read more »