CDFI Specialist Sydni Hair and THOP Manager Shalynn Kellogg.
By ROSELYNN YAZZIE
FORT HALL — The Shoshone-Bannock Tribes emerging Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI), is a private financial lending institute that provides affordable loan products to economically distressed communities, and it will be available soon.
The Tribal Housing Opportunities Program (THOP) wrote the NACA Technical Assistant grant and was awarded $149,562 to build the CDFI program. Need for the program was identified in the Housing Needs Assessment done in 2016.
Shalynn Kellogg, THOP Manager, said there was really no loan source except for with USDA, which was limited for rehab loans. The other thing from the financial counseling program was many people had payday loans, which have an abnormally high interest rate.
“We felt that we needed to build a program that we could provide loans to assist people and consolidation as well as eventually doing rehab loans for their homes.”
Kellogg said CDFI is the biggest avenue in order to help tribal members do that.
The TA grant was received in March and Sydni Hair, a CDFI Specialist, was hired in June to oversee the program. There are seven board members for CDFI, with four tribal members and three members of the banking and lending industry. Tribal Attorney Monte Gray, also sits on the board as a legal advisor.
Lending should begin at the beginning of December. A few clients have already been seen.
The biggest difference between the CDFI loan and a regular loan from a bank is financial education is a requirement of every facet.
There are two financial counselors who work with the program; they are Shalynn Kellogg and Whitney Burns.
Those eligible for the CDFI loans must meet the following criteria: Be Shoshone-Bannock tribal members; 18+ years old, stable work history, ability to repay loan; reasonably blemish free history of borrowing money; stable income which can include lease income, beading income, other at home business income; second priority goes to non-member Indians providing support for a tribal member child, elder, persons with a disability living on the Fort Hall Reservation; must participate in financial education.
Those considering a loan must visit the THOP office located in Building 82 and get an intake application and set up an appointment with a budget counselor. The budget counselor will sit down with them, pull their credit, do an analysis and set up a financial plan. They will then meet with Hair and go over the loan details, which will then be passed onto the loan committee. The applicant may be approved if they qualify and complete the process, which is based upon their credit score, capacity/debt to income ration, character of work and repayment history and meeting tribal member on non-member status.
Phase one CDFI loans, which will be available, can be given for unsecured loans/signature to build credit of up to $1,000; for unexpected financial crisis, for up to $1,500; or consolidation loans, up to $3,000, which will only be available to Sho-Ban tribal members.
The second and third phases will come once more capital is available once more capital is raised and they get more funding. They are currently in an emerging phase trying to get certified. The capital is based off of private donations and their own personal funding of the THOP. They were fortunate enough to have a Shoshone-Bannock tribal member donate $25,000 to get started, additionally they did some fundraisers to get more money and are around $26,000. They're also applied to personal investors that are interested in possibly providing capital.
Phase two is secured loans, which they will be looking at collateral and will be an increased amount of up to $5,000.
Phase three, once they’re certified for them, will be for larger home repair loans.
The benefits of getting a CDFI loan are they will also have credit builder loans available for those young adults just starting out and they will be have low interest rates for unsecured loans. More importantly, providing financial education will be key to every loan they give.