Nearly 9 percent of Oklahomans identify themselves as Native Americans, compared with 1 percent nationwide. With such a large American Indian population, we should support policies that uplift and support Indians. A recent decision by the federal government was welcome news to the Oklahoma Association of Realtors and to Oklahoma. Continued funding was approved for a home loan guarantee program, Section 184, specifically designed for Indians. The program is operated by the Department of Housing and Urban Development. It provides loans that can be used on and off native lands for new construction, existing homes or rehabilitation of homes.
Indian homeownership has historically been low, due to the fact that many Indian lands are held in trust. Section 184 seeks to expand access to capital for Indians and provide tribal housing agencies with private funding opportunities. This is an essential tool for homeownership for many Indians, without which those families may not be able to realize that dream. HUD guarantees these mortgage loans 100 percent, encouraging lenders to serve American Indian communities.
As of 2012, the program has guaranteed more than 15,500 loans to individuals, tribes and tribally designated housing entities nationwide, totaling $2.4 billion in guaranteed funds. In Oklahoma, alone, the program has guaranteed 6,486 loans, more than in any other state in the nation. Section 184 is the best opportunity for Indians to become first-time homeowners.
Every individual deserves the right to homeownership. Section 184 help Indians realize that dream.
Joe Pryor, Oklahoma City
Pryor is president of the Oklahoma Association of Realtors.