Indian Housing

Tribal authority and capacity to plan and operate a successful Indian housing program is a core pillar of sovereignty and an exercise of tribal self-determination providing tangible, visible benefits to improving the lives of tribal members. MPKGC’s attorneys all chose the practice of law to serve the Native American community and we know that, in working with Tribal Housing programs, we can assist tribes and their members to succeed and live in dignity.

Indian housing law is a key area of expertise for MPKGC attorneys, who have served as attorney advisors in a general counsel capacity to Tribally Designated Housing Entities (“TDHEs”) – tribal housing authorities or housing departments. Our experience in housing is robust in both breadth and depth, qualifying MPKGC to competently assist tribes and tribal housing authorities in key areas, such as strengthening internal organizational and leadership capabilities as well as building on program successes and maintaining regulatory compliance.

Many TDHEs have existing policies in place and HUD/Office of Native American Programs (ONAP) provides sample policies. Thus, the role of an attorney includes helping to adapt tribal housing policies to the unique needs and circumstances of a particular TDHE, reviewing changes proposed by TDHE boards and staff, and updating outdated provisions to ensure consistency with existing practices and applicable tribal and federal laws. In addition to tribal housing policies, MPKGC has assisted TDHE clients in drafting tribal ordinances, codes, or statutes for review and enactment by tribal councils – laws that may be integral to both a tribe’s Indian housing goals and to tribal assertion of sovereignty and jurisdiction over its reservation and trust lands.

Relevant Project History

Issues and areas of advocacy in Indian housing we have experience in and have successfully performed include:

Mutual Help Housing Under the 1937 Act

  • Counseling on conveyance of “Mutual Help” housing from TDHE to homeowner/tribal member
  • Preparation of conveyance documents and recordation with the BIA LTRO
  • Review of impact of conveyance on any existing ground leases between TDHE and its tribe

Compliance With and Opportunities Under NAHASDA

  • Submission of comments on proposed HUD rules for revising cost limits for Indian housing, including allowing tribes to develop their own standards for cost limits and raising the cap on tribal construction cost limits for tribes constructing homes in rural areas
  • Challenging HUD on total development costs for purposes of IHBG formula
  • Requesting expansion of a tribe’s Formula Area
  • Advocacy on negotiated rulemaking and supporting tribal efforts to ensure that California tribes are maximizing federal funding opportunities in the area of Indian housing
  • Challenging HUD to expand IHBG Formula Area
  • Counseling on HUD reporting requirements under NAHASDA
  • Review of Indian Housing Plans (IHP)
  • Advising on eligible affordable housing activities under NAHASDA
  • Assisting in efforts to promote home ownership and lending opportunities in Indian Country through existing federal programs and innovative partnerships between Indian tribes and the private sector
  • Advising on legal and program requirements for tribal/TDHE effective participation in HUD’s Section 184 program

Utilization of HUD Resources and Tools

  • Working with a tribe’s ONAP representative
  • Reviewing applicable HUD regulations (24 CFR Part 1000)
  • Reviewing PIH Notices for Native American Programs
  • Reviewing of existing and any newly issued ONAP Program Guidance

Transactional Documents for Indian Housing Programs

  • Preparation of lease purchase agreements
  • Drafting tribal soft second loan program, disclosures, and loan agreement, deeds of trust, and promissory note
  • Reviewing construction contract agreements
  • Reviewing title reports and commitments

Cooperative Agreements/MOUs

  • Advising when HUD requires TDHE or tribes to enter into cooperative agreements in lieu of property taxes
  • Drafting and negotiating local cooperative agreement/MOU with counties and cities


  • Advising on eligibility for Board of Equalization exemption of sales tax on construction materials delivered to tribal trust lands and reservations
  • Advising on eligibility for California property tax exemption for affordable rental housing under Revenue and Taxation Code Sec. 237

Financing Options for Housing Development, Including Low Income Housing Tax Credits

  • Advising on various public sector financing option for funding tribal housing development, including HUD/ONAP and USDA programs
  • Advising on private sector financing options for housing development, including Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs) and Low Income Housing Tax Credits (LIHTCs)
  • Experience with submission of tax credit application to the CA Tax Credit Allocation Committee

For a consultation about how we can assist with an Indian housing matter, we welcome you to contact MPKGC.