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Johnson introduces bill aiming to boost homeownership on tribal land

Rep. Johnson's office

U.S. Rep. Dusty Johnson has a introduced a bill he said will make it easier for tribal members to buy homes.

It's called the Tribal Trust Homeownership Act. Johnson announced the bill Monday.

The act is meant to address issues with the process all mortgages involving tribal trust land is subject to. The Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) oversees prospective homeowner applications and must approve of them for a mortgage to be finalized.

Right now, the timeline for this process is defined at the discretion of the BIA. That means consequences of a failure to adhere to the deadline for application approval are determined with the bureau.

Johnson said his bill would establish concrete timelines for the BIA approval process and necessitate the bureau to inform property lenders within 10 days of receiving proposed mortgage documents. The act also would prompt the creation of a BIA realty official position to serve as a mediator between the Bureau and Tribal members.

The Mortgage Bankers Association as well as the South Dakota Native Homeownership Coalition have endorsed the bill.

Sen. John Thune and Sen. Mike Rounds co-sponsored a companion bill in the Senate in 2021.

Zadya Abbott (she/her/hers) is a senior at the University of South Dakota studying Media and Journalism with a minor in Women and Gender Sexuality Studies. She is native to the southeastern corner of South Dakota. Zadya regards the journalism profession as one of noble service meant to objectively provide the public with information of interest.