Finding a way to expand housing opportunities in Indian Country is an exceptionally tall order, given the generations of economic deficits, lagging infrastructure investments, and heavy bureaucratic burdens. It also is critically needed given Indian Country’s growing population, positive economic growth, and increasing demand for homeownership.
Many tribal nations are tackling this challenge and have found promising approaches to overcome entrenched problems, often in isolated areas with far too few financial resources. They are connecting to the land and igniting the engines of economic self-sufficiency.
Today’s tribal leaders are framing their efforts with community-determined goals, restoring core traditional values to their ways of life, and designing new paths forward to lift and support their people.
The Tribal Leaders Handbook on Homeownership captures the effectiveness and forward momentum of these efforts. The Handbook is both a blueprint of best practices, research, and resources, and a toolkit for accessing capital, creating more housing options on trust lands, and instilling hope for future generations of Native communities and families.
Most of these successful approaches emphasize the importance of leadership and community engagement in all aspects of housing. They also incorporate unique expressions of cultural visions and collaborative planning in creating successful housing programs.
This work—bringing new resources and ideas into action in Indian Country—requires many hands (just as this Handbook required the work of many hands). It can be done only through partnerships, collaborations, and community commitments.
Working with tribes is a very rewarding experience. The special economic development challenge in Indian Country—a distinctively important component of the U.S. economy—is the efficient economic use of reservation trust lands. We must pursue policies and design programs that unlock the potential of these vast landscapes.
—Patrice H. Kunesh, Director, Center for Indian Country Development