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Native to America

Housing and Urban Development [1] (HUD) Secretary Ben Carson attended the United Native American Housing Association Conference [2] in Polson, Montana Monday to discuss the responsibilities HUD and its Office of Native American Programs [3] (ONAP) have to create equality for Native Americans in the housing market. Though homelessness has decreased by 100,000 in the last 10 years and the unemployment rate is at its lowest point in a decade, Carson explained they have a special responsibility to those peoples who were here before all others.

During the conference, Carson shared recent HUD data that found that 68,000 new affordable housing units are needed to replace their older and less safe predecessors in order to serve the American Indian and Alaska Native communities. Carson said they have a moral obligation to make sure this happens.

In order to follow through, HUD will have to work across all federal agencies, state and local authorities, tribal leaders, and public and private partnerships to make sure jobs are available to those that need them and are able to work.

β€œIt means eliminating burdensome regulations and unreasonable limits on land use that keep tribes from prosperity and self-sufficiency, preventing them from developing their own property as they like,” Carson said. "And it means ensuring that every community has access to good health care and choice in education. For we cannot simply put a roof over someone's head, while ignoring the needs of their body and mind.”

One of the ways HUD and ONAP is working to address Native American lending is through its new computer system that expedites the processing of mortgage loans for Indian Housing. The ONAP Loan Origination System or ONAP-LOS will allow lenders to automate case registration, reservation of funds, and the issuance of loan guarantee certificates. Eligible lenders are able to train on the system electronically.

For more information on ONAP-LOS, click here [4].