|Ho-Chunk, Inc.: Press release
Return To Press Area Contents01.06.12
Ho-Chunk, Inc. Dividend Provides Hand Up for
New Home Ownership Surge on Winnebago Reservation
WINNEBAGO, NE – The Winnebago Tribe and the community of Winnebago are in the midst of a growing evolution that is transforming the Native American Dream of owning a home to a truly achievable dream. Surprisingly, the stunning evolution that is making home ownership a reality for a growing number of Tribal Members is flourishing despite the effects of a struggling national economy.
In response to a recent proposal by Ho-Chunk, Inc., the award-winning economic development corporation of the Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska, the Winnebago Tribal Council approved a renewed financial commitment to the program responsible for this unprecedented growth, the Winnebago $1 Million Housing Stimulus Program. This allocation of funds should ensure that the necessary resources are available for continuing to make the dream of home ownership a reality for Tribal Families on the reservation.
The $500,000 allocated by the Winnebago Tribal Council of the expected $1.3 million 2011 dividend paid to the Tribe by Ho-Chunk, Inc., provides $300,000 in direct funding for the highly successful Housing Programwhich will be enough to provide funding for six or seven new homes for Tribal Families at $50,000 each.
The Tribal Council’s allocation also included $200,000 for infrastructure improvements in the Ho-Chunk Village. Improvements will include gas, electric, sewer, water, streets, creation of 14 to 18 additional housing lots and completion of infrastructure for Tribal commercial lots. Ho-Chunk Village is a blossoming new mixed use development with industrial, commercial, retail, and residential components in Winnebago, Nebraska created through a partnership of Ho-Chunk, Inc. and Ho-Chunk Community Development Corporation.
The Ho-Chunk, Inc. 2011 Projected Dividend to the Tribe is 20 percent of the projected net income generated by Ho-Chunk, Inc. business enterprises. Initially Ho-Chunk, Inc. placed its
focus on areas that could create employment on the reservation, but now has diversified to add a wide variety of other operations across the U.S. and in several foreign countries.
Much of the ability of Ho-Chunk, Inc. and the Tribe to stimulate the evolution in housing growth on the reservation is due to the company’s involvement in the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) 8(a) program. The program makes it possible for Ho-Chunk, Inc. subsidiaries and other small businesses to compete for and win government contracts that would otherwise probably be awarded to much larger corporations.
“The fact that Ho-Chunk is able to generate a significant Tribal Dividend that can be in part allocated to stimulate community growth and the ability of Tribal Families to capture the dream of home ownership is a prime example of how the SBA 8(a) program provides a hand up to Native People that will truly help them develop a self-sustaining, healthy economy and community for future generations,” said Lance Morgan, President and CEO of Ho-Chunk, Inc.
“In the Ho-Chunk, Inc. economic development model the bridge to economic self-sufficiency contains three elements for success: education, jobs and affordable housing. Without these three pillars, short and long term growth will not be possible. Recognizing the importance of these elements the Winnebago Tribe, Ho-Chunk, Inc. and HCCDC have taken steps through ongoing strategic planning and investment to build viable programs to address Tribal member needs.” Morgan concluded.
The Start of a Housing Evolution
This amazing story of growth and evolution really began in 2010 with Tribal Council approval of the original proposal put forward by Ho-Chunk, Inc., to create a ground-breaking $1 Million Housing Program. The plan called for the use of $800,000 of the Ho-Chunk, Inc. Annual Dividend paid to the Tribe over two years as well as an additional $200,000 to be raised from the resumption of a one cent per gallon gasoline tax to launch the new program. The Stimulus Program would provide an additional $50,000 in down payment assistance on a first-come-first-served basis to up to 20 tribal members. New homes were to be constructed on the reservation over the next two to four years.
Funds provided by the Program when combined with the existing Tribal Housing Down Payment Program and Winnebago Down Payment Assistance Program would make tribal members
eligible for up to $65,000 in down payment assistance and potentially $70,000 for qualifying low income families purchasing new homes on the reservation. By combining the two existing down payment assistance programs with the new Stimulus Programthe cost of purchasing a new home on the reservation was effectively reduced by as much as one third; making the dream of home ownership affordable for more Tribal families.
The $1 Million Housing Programis not dependent on income requirements but has the same guidelines as the existing Winnebago Down Payment Assistance Program. The program is limited to new home construction, but can be located anywhere on the reservation.
Affordable Housing Demand Remains High
Because Reservation land was held in trust by the Federal Government it prevented the ability to borrow capital against it for business or agricultural activities. Traditionally, demand for housing for Tribal members on the reservation has been strong. Although the Tribe has built or purchased approximately 100 housing units over the past 15 years, the supply has been insufficient to meet current and future needs. With nearly half of the Tribe’s population on the reservation less than 18 years of age, housing demand over the next 10 to 20 years is expected to require at least 100
additional housing units to stay current. As many as 150 to 200 units may be needed to satisfy actual housing demand.
Besides the Down Payment Assistance Programs, discounts have been provided on housing lots in Ho-Chunk Village. Grants were pursued for the Initial Infrastructure in Ho-Chunk Village. Ho-Chunk, Inc. purchased the controlling interest in a modular housing manufacturer to provide both a revenue stream and to provide quality homes at cost to Tribal members. Ho-Chunk, Inc. also invested in a regional bank, to provide a conduit for financing with private home ownership as the ultimate goal. Ho-Chunk, Inc. also launched a construction company headquartered on the Reservation to build new homes and to compete in the general marketplace for revenue.
Success Reveals Even Greater Demand
Since the inception of the $1 Million Stimulus Program 25 Tribal Families are using the program that was intended to be a three-year program running through 2012. Nine members have received the down payment assistance. An additional five members have been approved for the funds. Eleven more have applied. Prior to the Tribal Council allocation, it was estimated that only six more member homes could be funded at the higher level before the Down Payment Program
would be exhausted. Growing demand had also reduced the number of available housing lots left in the new Ho-Chunk Village to just five. It became clear that without the further allocation of resources to finish Village infrastructure and add funds to the Down Payment Fund the fast-paced growth would grind to a halt.
With the Tribal Council’s authorization of Ho-Chunk, Inc. to allocate $500,000 of its 2011 Dividend to the Tribe for Infrastructure Improvements in the Ho-Chunk Village and the remainder to be placed in the Down Payment Assistance Program, housing and community growth on the Winnebago Reservation seems destined to continue at a rapid pace.
The Ho-Chunk, Inc. mission is to develop economic self-sufficiency and job opportunities for Tribal members. The company operates 26 subsidiaries; with operations spanning the U.S and five foreign countries employing more than 1,400 people. Ho-Chunk, Inc. maintains a diverse business portfolio with enterprises located both on and off the reservation that include information technology, construction, government contracting, green energy, retail, wholesale distribution, marketing, media and transportation.