HEARTH Act passes U.S. Senate, could expedite land transactions on Wind River

Jul 19, 2012

The Helping Expedite and Advance Responsible Tribal Homeownership – or HEARTH –Act has passed the U.S. Senate and is expected to be signed by President Obama soon.

Originally introduced by Wyoming Republican John Barrasso, the HEARTH Act allows tribes to approve land leases… while the current path to homeownership requires the Bureau of Indian Affairs to approve land leases. The BIA process has been known to take between six months and two years.

Executive Director for Northern Arapaho Tribal Housing, Patrick Goggles, says the streamlined process will be good for Arapaho Tribal members on the Wind River Reservation.

“It will help them in the process of applying for loan guarantees with various federal agencies like the Veterans Administration, like HUD, like Rural Development – it will assist them in shortening that length of time for them to access those various federal programs that provide loan guarantees for home ownership.” 

Goggles estimates that at least 20 tribal members have been waiting to negotiate land leases with the BIA, and possibly more not even bothering to attempt home ownership due to the wait period. He expects the law will take about a year to be implemented in Indian Country.