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The 2013 Minnesota Indian Housing Conference will be held August 6-9, 2013 at Black Bear Casino & Resort.
By: Donna Fairbanks In 1975, the Minnesota Chippewa Tribe conducted a housing survey which included the six northern Chippewa reservations. What the survey did was document the deplorable housing conditions that existed. During the 1976 State Legislative Session, this survey was presented. At the time we had a surplus in the state funds and we had a very benevolent legislative body. They appropriated $5M for all of the 11 reservations. The law was very broad, it basically said that the funds could be used to provide affordable housing for members of tribes living on and off the Reservations. There were some rules that followed and homeownership programs were encouraged to be created as the Tribe deemed necessary. Each Tribal entity could set its own interest rate and income limits as well as their selection criteria. They did however, need to stay within Minnesota Housing Finance Agency's (MHFA) income and interest rates. This was not hard to do as we all know back in 1976, our Reservation populations were extremely poor. Fast forward to 1989, the programs consisted of Minnesota Chippewa Tribal Housing Corporation, The Red Lake Housing Finance Agency, and the Minnesota Dakota Housing Authority. They all had set-up Mortgage Financing Programs, loans were being made, payments were being paid and the legislature continued to appropriate funds on the bi-annum. Pictures were taken of the homes built and families would testify at the state level to let the folks know these monies were being well spent and the programs were being administered according to the Program Agreements. While the tribes all had their own separate programs, they did not for the most part work with each other, so it was decided to have a statewide Indian Housing Conference. The theme being, “Accomplishments of the Past, Opportunities in The Future". There were 52 participants and evaluations were filled out and a report followed. It was a great opportunity for the Tribal Mortgage Entities to come together and talk about what they were doing, how it was going and where they wanted to go in the future. Kevin Fitzgibbons from the Eastern Woodlands Office of Native American Programs (EW/ONAP) has always been supportive and willing to put a good word to whomever and whenever we needed someone of his caliber to speak up for the continuing need for additional finds. The folks at MHFA were also supportive and always looking for ways to expand, leverage and look for additional monies to support the programs. In 1978 a group of Urban Indians went to the Tribal leaders to see if we could lobby for a separate, (in addition to the already funded on/off reservation) funds. We got their support, we went to the legislature and were successful in having the law amended to include a pot of funds (it required leveraging of other public and private funds to the extent possible). This was also another accomplishment. We had Urban Indian Housing Entities created just for this purpose. Suffice it to say, “We have come a long way” and to this day we are one of the very few states that actually can boast of having a state funded housing program. We were the leaders way back then. HO-WAH!
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