Magazine article American Banker

Norwest Targets Mortgage Loans on Reservation Land

Magazine article American Banker

Norwest Targets Mortgage Loans on Reservation Land

Article excerpt

Norwest Mortgage has launched a home loan program for Native Americans living on reservations in South Dakota, North Dakota, and Nebraska.

The pilot program for the three-state area helps reduce loan approval time for Native Americans living on five million acres of allotted trust land.

The first mortgage was issued last month to a Native American woman in Pine Ridge, S.D., where there is an Oglala Sioux reservation with more than 12,000 people, said Robert Skjonsberg, account executive for community development lending at Norwest Mortgage in Pierre, S.D.

The woman's mortgage took the Bureau of Indian Affairs, which is working with Norwest and the Department of Housing and Urban Development on the program, just 30 days to process, said Cora Jones, the bureau's director for the pilot-test area. Previously, it would have taken six months to a year, she said.

American Indians are "finally getting part of the American dream of homeownership," Ms. Jones said.

Sixteen Native American groups live within the test area, Ms. Jones said. Three of the United States' poorest counties-Shannon, Todd, and Ziebach-are within the test area in South Dakota, she said.

To date, Ms. Jones said, most pilot program activity has been in the southern part of the test area.

Private financial institutions have been uncomfortable about making mortgages on reservation land because it is held in trust by the federal government, she said. When Native Americans did apply for loans, "more often than not they were turned down," she said. …

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