HUD Expands Tribal Counseling Services

The Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) Office of Housing Counseling is expanding services for Tribal communities.

A new final rule outlines the requirements for gaining a housing counselor certification related to the Indian Housing Block Grant (IHBG) and Indian Community Development Block Grant (ICDBG).

The new rule creates a new category of certified housing counselor, a HUD-certified Tribal housing counselor, and implements a new exam that features information specifically about fair housing laws related to Tribes and the status of trust land.

A four-year transition period will give grantees time to ensure housing counselors can get certified, and HUD will facilitate additional training for those who become certified, as well as modify study materials for housing counselor examinations to account for Tribe-specific content.

The changes make certification more Tribe-friendly, opening up new opportunities for housing counselors in native communities.  HUD expects the rule to expand the number of HUD-certified housing counselors serving Tribes’ needs.

“Throughout the Biden-Harris Administration, we’ve prioritized strengthening Nation-to-Nation relationships with Tribes by working to reduce historic barriers to housing access,” said HUD Acting Secretary Adrianne Todman. 

“After more than a year working with Tribes and Tribal Organizations on the proposed rule, HUD is proud to publish this final rule ensuring members of Tribal communities’ access to crucial housing counseling services tailored to their specific needs. We are committed to partnering with Tribes to increase equitable housing and support generational wealth building.”

Multiple tribal consultations and listening sessions, during which the tribes provided input and feedback, informed both the proposed and final rules.

“Removing this barrier means that more Tribal individuals and families can be served by a trusted source within their community – a source that understands their unique cultural perspective and housing needs,” said Assistant Secretary for Housing and Federal Housing Commissioner Julia Gordon. 

“Tribal members have long been underserved in the housing market.”

This is the second rule related to Native American homeownership implemented by HUD this year. In April, it announced a new rule designed to increase lender participation in the Section 184 Indian Housing Loan Guarantee program and strengthen regulations to align with its current needs.

Native communities have been boxed out of homeownership across the U.S. as the result of discrimination tracing back to treaties negotiated between the Federal Government and sovereign Native nations in the 19th century that stripped them of their land.

Since then, Native people have been systemically blocked out of the homebuying process and were even at one point excluded from FHA lending opportunities.