GREEN BAY, Wis. (WFRV) – The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced its partnership with eight Native Community Development Financial Institutions (NCDFIs) to create more opportunities for Native Americans living on Tribal lands.

Wisconsin is one of eight states receiving a loan to help finance eight homes. The Fund was awarded $1 million, which will ensure economic security for those families in need. The USDA is trying to partner with organizations across the nation to continue providing for rural and Tribal communities.

The 2023 Tribal Housing Summit took place Monday afternoon at the Radisson Hotel and Conference Center in Green Bay. Organizers and Oneida Nation community members gathered to discuss and learn about how the funds will benefit eligible homebuyers.

Joaquin Altoro is the USDA Rural Housing Administrator and was originally born and raised in Milwaukee, WI. Altoro traveled to Wisconsin to show his support to the area’s Tribal communities.

“What we realize is that it is not our responsibility, as the federal government and working with the sovereign nation, to make the decisions for home ownership,” said Altoro. “So what we are doing now is we have a re-lending program where we make investments into our community development financial Institutions where they themselves make the decisions, they work with their homeowners, they provide the technical assistance, and it’s an amazing program where we know that our sovereign nations, our tribal nations are making the decisions.”

The Oneida Nation Chairman told Local Five’s Samantha Petters he thinks the pilot program is a great idea and looks forward to seeing the positive impact it makes on the community.

“Housing ranks very high among our community members, so anytime we can do anything with housing to try to meet our community’s needs, we’ll try our best to do that,” said Tehassi Hill. “And a partnership with other tribes around the state and the Midwest, I think we’re able to do a little bit more when we bring our minds together and share ideas about how to better build our community.”

Oneida Nation owns Bay Bank and Oneida ESC group, and the two organizations decided they had the resources to offer funding and construction services and bring everyone together to let their voices be heard. Jeff House, President and CEO of Oneida ESC Group, attended the Summit and said it was about time they discussed the housing crisis.

“I think it’s really important for people to share their ideas,” said House. “Our hope is that we continue with this Tribal Housing Summit because we think it’s an important first step, but I think the other thing we want to do is really expand it beyond the Midwest.”