Jerrna Weaver and Cody Mills recently welcomed family along with members of Tribal Credit, Housing, and Lands into their new home for a brief tour on Wednesday, Oct. 18. The pair became homeowners through the Tribal Credit Division’s Secure Home Loan Program, which allows membership to purchase new or existing homes on tribal trust lands and fee lands on the reservation. Now that the family has begun moving into their new home, they look forward to raising their children in Ignacio — their hometown.
Weaver and Mills have been together since their high school years, and they are the parents of two children. Prior to becoming homeowners, the family lived nearby in Farmington, N.M., each day they would make the daily commute to Ignacio so their children could attend school. Last year, the family began moving out of their previous home – with the costly commute and a move out date on the horizon, Weaver and Mills made the decision to move back home to begin the search for a new house.
Exploring homeownership can be intimidating, but with recommendations from their family and from other Southern Ute tribal members, Weaver and Mills turned to the Southern Ute Tribal Credit Division to assist them in home buying. “Once we had the kids it was like ‘well what are we doing,’ we know for sure we want the kids to grow up here,” Weaver said. “Grandma [Evelyn Burch] was the one that was kind of like ‘hey, by the way [see how this program can assist you]’– we had a few people encouraging us.”
Weaver and Mills then began working with Tribal Credit Division Head, Zebulan Vogenthaler to start the process through the Secure Home Loan Program. This program allows tribal members to either purchase new or existing homes on tribal trust lands and/or fee lands. For interested homeowners, applying for the program is the first step, Vogenthaler runs credit reports and will gather information about the type of home the buyer is looking for. Tribal Housing Project Manager, Mandy Brown works alongside Vogenthaler during the initial process. The Lands Division is also key in the program, as applications for land assignments are completed during the initial process and following that, the client will then meet with the Credit Committee for pre-qualification so the client knows what they can afford before purchasing a home.
“Zeb and I work in tandem, and we have a whole team that we work with as well,” Brown said. “What’s really cool about that is we all stay in communication, so when there is a hiccup or things do come up, we’re able to work through that with the individual to help them achieve their dreams.” Tribal Housing works closely with clients to navigate through information while helping with any issues that may arise during the process.
“Mandy and Zeb gave us a price range, so then we went [to Homes Direct] with that price range and budget in mind,” Mills said. “We looked around and we liked this double wide, then we saw a triple wide we were like ‘I don’t know if we can get it,’ but let’s just see–we ended up making two financial plans one for the double and one for the triple, we sent both of them.”
“It was good to move off the reservation and actually, like experience, how to not only take care of ourselves, but take care of each other,” Weaver said. “It was hard, but you know by the time we came back–we knew what we’re doing, and we just needed a direction and a plan.”
Weaver and Mills encourage other tribal members to look into this program if they are interested in a home. “Everybody’s eligible to do it, if you don’t have a better house like our living situation or if you’re growing out of [your home], just shoot for it,” Weaver said. “Don’t hold back when you’re talking to Zeb and Mandy about what you want, they are there to help you.”
For more information regarding the Secure Home Loan Program, please contact Tribal Credit Division Head, Zebulan Vogenthaler at 970-563-2458.