On a sun-drenched, snowy day in Browning, Montana, community leaders gathered at NACDC Financial Services, Inc., to celebrate NACDC’s receipt of a $1 million USDA grant to expand single family homeownership on the Blackfeet Indian Reservation.
The award is part of USDA Rural Development’s 502 Native Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) Relending Demonstration Program, which provides Native CDFIs with capital so they can lend to eligible mortgage loan recipients for home purchases on Tribal Lands. NACDC was one of eight recipients nationally and will use its funding to help an expected 10 new homebuyers on the Blackfeet Reservation purchase a home.
Started in 2017, NACDC Financial Services, Inc., has a portfolio of more than 70 loans totaling $7 million, with 97 percent of its lending going to residents living on Tribal Trust Lands.
According to Angie Main, executive director for NACDC Financial Services, Inc., her organization is a small-scale Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI), and there is a large disparity between hers and larger CDFIs.
“Accessing funds can be challenging, and several barriers exist to raising capital for financing homeowners,” said Main. “We are happy to have these funds, happy for the support, and we want to continue this program because there are plenty of others still in need.”
The road to that snowy day in Browning was not an easy one. The application called for a 20 percent fund match - $200,000 – and while they could have applied without the match, their application would have been less competitive.
But, as evidence of the strong partnership and support of NACDC’s work and role in the Blackfeet community and beyond, NeighborWorks Montana stepped up to assist with the financing needed for the match, making the application more competitive and eventually paving the way for the $1 million award.
“We are among the handful of Native CDFIs and many can’t come up with matching funds, so they don’t have capacity for earning related points on their applications, putting them at a disadvantage,” said Main. “That is why NeighborWorks’ willingness to contribute the matching funds was game changer for this grant.”
Main intends to make this investment go far and considers it a win-win for her community, building Native capacity to facilitate Native homeownership. And while they’ve come a long way, they still have a long way to go assisting Tribal people on Tribal lands.
While there is no set timeline for releasing the funds, Main said she will have no trouble disbursing them to eligible homeowners.
“There is such a need here. It means so much to buy a home here and work with people to be able to turn a home over to them,” said Patty Gobert, a member of Main’s team at NACDC Financial Services. “For them to be in their own home sheds a whole new light on life.”