Progress for Red Lake Nation: Red Lake Housing on the Rise
Little Rock Representative to the Red Lake Tribal Council, Richard Barrett gave a tour of two new housing projects in the Little Rock District. Known as Project RL11, two areas now have 15 new homes each on tarred roads with shoulders. The meandering roads are cut into the woods ending in a cul-de-sac.
It is evident that we are looking at very nice, mellow neighborhoods, Barrett stated. The housing project’s water and sewer lines are hooked up to Red Lake.
“These are ‘rent to own’ tax credit units,” he said, “so people keep up the property quite well.” The project was connected to city water, and sewer at a cost of $1.4 million. This portion was funded by loans, and grants from the United States Department of Agriculture.
“There are three different styles of homes, all on two acre sites," noted Barrett. “Some have garages, all have two to four bedrooms and a full bath. None have basements, because they don’t seem to work very well.”
In keeping with Red Lake’s concept of going “green” when possible, all homes have thermal heat pumps, “the first on the reservation,” said Barrett. “These units are very ‘eco friendly’ and save fuel. The homes not only reduce heat costs, but provide air conditioning as well.” The homes are all electric.
According to Red Lake Housing Authority Assistant Executive Director Linda McGraw-Adams, the Little Rock units (RL11) were the last of a housing project that began back in the Fall of 2009.
“These are all tax credit developments," said McGraw-Adams, “from the Raymond James Tax Credit, which is a part of Raymond James Financial Group. Renters commit to live in the units from one to 15 years. Then renters at the end of 15 years can buy the home or own it at cost, thereby getting a home pretty cheap.”
“During this time we’ve had several housing starts,” McGraw-Adams said, “at Hart Lake, Little Rock, Walking Shield, the Highlands addition, and 40 military units came from Grand Forks air base.”
“Because so many people moving into the units have never owned a home before, Housing holds a home ownership class,” McGraw-Adams said. “Subjects covered include finances, credit reports, housekeeping tips, general maintenance, and budgeting."
The Red Lake Housing Authority employs sixty persons; in house, construction, and other staff. The Authority is currently looking for new Housing Authority office quarters.
Housing Particulars (Provided by Representative Barrett)
New Housing coming and in the works.
• Ponemah will have 15 units completed this Fall
• Redby will have 8 new units by Fall
• New infrastructure is being worked on in Red Lake
• The Red Lake Homeowner initiative will provide 90 new housing units for sale in 2012-13.
Total cost of Little Rock’s 30 units. (Each home cost $164, 530)
• $477,528 Round House (Located on one of the Cul-de-sacs)
• $5,651,273 for 30 units
• $6,128,801 Total
Where the money came from.
• $269,273 Federal Home Loan Bank
• $180,000 Greater Minnesota Housing Fund (Ground source heat pumps)
• $538,536 Red Lake Housing Authority
• $5,140,992 Raymond James/Tax Credit
• $6,128,801 Total
Report on Activities of the Red Lake Housing Authority (From Chairman Jourdain’s State of the Band Message)
New construction completed:
• Fifteen units in the Walking Shield Village using American Recovery, and Reinvestment Act funds through HUD. This project cost $1.3 million dollars. Fifteen houses cost $ 89,250 apiece, but were sold to band members at a reduced cost of $52,000.00.
• Three units constructed by NW Technical College, and Leech Lake Tribal College. These units are located in the new Ponemah rental area.
• Three units constructed by the military, also located in the Ponemah rental area.
• The Red Lake housing finance corporation entered into one new home loan with homebuyer, and 18 loans for rehabilitation of existing units.
• Rental assistance and security deposits were provided to 76 families in Beltrami County outside the reservation.
• Down payment assistance was provided to two families in Beltrami County off reservation.
• Thirty-one furnaces were replaced in units under housing authority management.
• Red Lake gaming allocated funds for the installation of 18 new septic systems for privately owned homes.
• Red Lake housing authority installed 15 new septic systems.
The Tax Credit Program
• The Low Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) program provides millions of dollars every year for the development of affordable housing.
• It is restricted to serving families whose income is no greater than 60% of the area medium income. Units must be maintained as rental housing for a minimum of 15 years.
• Renters have the option at the end of 15 years to actually buy the homes or right of first refusal, at the discretion of the Housing Authority.
• Rents are very affordable for low income families. Not uncommon to see rentals for three or four bedroom homes renting for $150 to $175.
• Over the rental period, people can become home buyers while at the same time getting used to home ownership, maintenance, and credit problems.
• Rent does not increase if income increases. Rent only increase as costs increase and then only at an approved rate. This encourages thrift and hard work as housing costs take less of the homeowners income as income rises.
• Houses are on 30 year mortgages. If a tenant buys after 15 years, the cost and interest are much lower to buy.
Programs offered by the Red Lake Housing Authority
• Low income rental
• Low income tax credit
• Walking Shield Program
• NAHASDA program
• Mutual Help program
• Security Deposit assistance program for off-reservation
• Down payment and closing costs assistance program for off-reservation