There is a very special feeling a family experiences and profound thoughts each family member has when they first receive the keys to their new home. More tribal members from the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community (SRPMIC) will be able to enjoy this experience by moving into homes at Mesquite Trails, a new housing subdivision in the Community.
The area began development in 2012, the first home was completed this past August and another in the construction phase. Three more homes are slated to begin construction in 2015.
Owning your own home means you are not renting and paying others to live on their property, it means every house payment goes to paying off your home loan, which builds a person’s credit rating. And most importantly, it is a place that you can now call your own, a place to raise children, and a place that offers the opportunity to live within the Community.
Salt River Financial Services Institution (SRFSI), which offers services exclusively to members of the SRPMIC, is proud to be a partner in this effort. The Mesquite Trails neighborhood is the first subdivision SRFSI is involved with to help qualified tribal members obtain loans to build a home. John Juarez, executive director of SRFSI, said that one of their goals is “to enhance the quality of living for Community members … some members live in the nearby cities, live in mobile trailers or with family members, [and they] are at a point in their lives where they have decided they are ready to own their own home.”
The Mesquite Trails subdivision, which provides homesites averaging one-for members to build custom homes, depending on the amount of the home loan the Community member is qualified to receive. SRFSI can also help qualified tribal members with building homes on allotted land, offer assistance if tribal residents want to quality for a home-improvement loan, and offer business loans to tribal members. SRFSI was established by the Community in 2006, and since then it has provided 76 home loans to members on allotted and tribal lands.
Community members may be wondering what steps need to be taken to qualify for a home on tribal land, such as in the Mesquite Trails subdivision. The process is very individualized, and each tribal member has unique circumstances; therefore, the length of the process can vary from a few months to a year or more.
To start, Community members work with the SRPMIC Community Development Department (CDD) to discuss eligibility and submit an application to SRFSI to determine the amount of the loan they qualify to receive, and what the monthly payments will cost. Once the potential homeowner agrees to the loan terms, the individual or family works with SRFSI staff to select the lot and home size, along with custom features and upgrades allowed as a part of the home loan, which will lead to determining a construction date to being on your home.
While it seems like a lot of work and time for Community members to put in, “Many Community members want to live within the Community or want to move back to the Community, and working with other financial institutions is very difficult because they do not understand [the land trust relationship with the Bureau of Indian Affairs that tribal members have to deal with as it pertains to home ownership],” Juarez said.
What makes SRFSI different from other lenders is that the SRFSI staff understands the specific rules and regulations that tribal owners and contractors must follow when building a house within reservation boundaries. Unlike other commercial lenders, SRFSI also offers financial-education services to help clients improve their creditworthiness so they can quality for a home loan. SRFSI provides a variety of services that help Community members build their credit, correct credit-report mistakes and help pay off high-interest loans, which are all geared toward improving their credit rating and qualifying for a home loan. SRFSI provides the “Financial Skills for Families: Building Native Communities” curriculum. They can also offer pre-designed floor plans that are less costly for tribal members who prefer to have a smaller home loan.
Just as important, SRFSI makes sure all potential homeowners clearly understand their financial responsibilities, know what is expected of them while owning their own home, and help develop a budget that will provide a pathway to successful homeownership.
Owning your own home means you are not renting and paying others to live on their property; it means every house payment goes toward paying off your home loan, which builds your credit rating. And most important, you have a place that you can call your own, a place to raise children, and a place that offers the opportunity to live within the Community.
For many Community members, achieving this milestone in their life can take a long time. However, there is something permanent and extremely profound in owning a home. A sense of belonging and being part of a community can be felt, and it is something tangible that can be offered to families.
For more information on the Mesquite Trails subdivision or other services offered by SRFSI, call (480) 850-5460.