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Oklahoma tribal leaders attend bill-signing ceremony 6-19-07

TULSA, Okla. (AP) - Leaders of Oklahoma's five major American Indian tribes watched as President Bush signed a bill to reauthorize an existing program that encourages homeownership among American Indians by guaranteeing mortgages.

Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Chad Smith; Chickasaw Nation Gov. Bill Anoatubby; Assistant Chief Gary Batton of the Choctaw Nation; Chief A.D. Ellis of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation and Chief Enoch Kelly Haney of the Seminole Nation were on hand in the Oval Office as Bush added his signature to the Native American Home Ownership Opportunity Act of 2007, which Rep. Dan Boren, D-Okla., supported.

“This program increases homeownership in Indian Country and improves the quality of life in Indian communities,” Boren, who also attended the signing ceremony, said in a story from the Tulsa World's Washington bureau. “Seeing this legislation passed and signed into law is critical to continue providing homeownership opportunities throughout Indian Country.”

Cole Perryman, a spokesman for Boren, said the White House had linked the event to the president's push for home ownership for specific communities. The new law reauthorizes HUD'S Section 184 Loan Guarantee Program, which was created in 1992 to address the lack of mortgage lending for American Indians.

“Native Americans deserve an equal opportunity to share in the dream of homeownership, and this program helps them do just that,” HUD Secretary Alphonso Jackson said in a news release. “Indian tribes around the country have utilized these loans to increase and improve their housing.”

According to HUD, more than 4,500 loans have been guaranteed for $573.1 million.

Boren said 24 tribes in Oklahoma have participated in the program. Since its inception, the program has guaranteed $121.9 million in loans in Oklahoma, which represents 34 percent of the total loans to American Indians nationwide, Boren said.
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