Partnership to benefit Native American homeownership

LONGMONT — First Nations Oweesta Corp., based in Longmont, and Wells Fargo & Co. have launched a $500,000 home down-payment assistance program aimed at increasing U.S. homeownership opportunities for Native Americans.

The grant is among the first by Wells Fargo in a five-year, $50 million commitment to American Indian/Alaska Native communities to help address economic, social and environmental needs.

Wells Fargo committed the funds to five Native Community Development Financial Institutions, including:

  • Cook Inlet Lending Center, Anchorage, Alaska.
  • Four Directions Development Corp., Orono, Maine.
  • Mazaska Owecase Otipi Financial, Pine Ridge, S.D.
  • Native Community Finance, Laguna, N.M.
  • TIWA Lending Services, Isleta Pueblo, N.M.

“For a myriad of reasons and for generations, Native communities have historically had lower homeownership participation than other parts of the U.S., and this new opportunity will allow Native Americans to attain the true American dream,” Chrystel Cornelius, executive director of First Nations Oweesta Corp., said in a prepared statement. “This opportunity provided by Wells Fargo will have an incredible impact for generations within Indian Country as we see tribal members creating assets and building personal wealth in the form of homeownership.”

First Nations Oweesta will act as the intermediary, with the Wells Fargo funds issued to all organizations as equity grants, allowing each organization to provide direct grant funds up to $5,000 each to tribal members for down-payment assistance capital through their respective tribal lending programs.

First Nations Oweesta Corp. was created 19 years ago to address the lack of capital and financial infrastructure holding back economic development in native communities recognized by its parent organization, First Nations Development Institute.