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Native CDFI Takes Bold Step to Tackle Housing Crisis in Indian Country

Financial and Social Impact

  • Native American family able move into affordable new home amidst housing crisis

Client: Local family
Client Location: Colville Reservation
CDFI: Northwest Native Development Fund (NNDF)
CDFI service area: Washington
CDFI services provided: Financing (2021 Native CDFI Catalyst Award)

There is a serious housing crisis on the Colville Indian Reservation, and no one was effectively dealing with it and building or providing new homes that fit the market for local working families. Home prices outpace the salaries of local teachers, nurses, the office workers of the region.

In 2019, the Northwest Native Development Fund (NNDF) decided that enough was enough and someone had to do something bold. In the spring of 2019, the CDFI formulated the Upstream Housing Initiative. Instead of focusing on providing lending capital for homes that did not exist, the NNDF decided to tackle the problem “upstream” from the financing process. They decided to focus on building and funding the development of new homes.

In fall of 2019, the NNDF purchased a town lot and broke ground on a new home that they would build all by themselves. They took a gamble that they could build a quality house and be able to sell it to a local working family. Within five months, a three-bedroom two bath home was finished and ready to go to the market. Just in time for COVID-19 shutdowns. The sale was put on a brief hold.

After waiting and working through and unstable year of the pandemic, the NNDF renewed their efforts to put this brand-new home back onto the market. Within a few weeks, a young family toured the home. They had been living with their parents and struggling for months and months to find a home that was affordable and livable. On one occasion they were almost ready to purchase a home, only to have the seller pull it for a much higher price outside of the family’s income level.

Enter the “Orchard House” built by the NNDF. The brand-new home was the perfect size and the price fit within the parameters of the family’s mortgage pre-approval through the VA. The sale went quickly and smoothly. This allowed the NNDF to recover its construction costs and costs of the sale. Now the NNDF plans on rolling all of that into the next home for the next deserving family on the Colville Indian Reservation.

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