It was a $2.8 million Title VI loan that got a housing project off the ground at the San Felipe Indian pueblo north of Albuquerque.

Bank of America made the loan, which has enabled to date 28 units of modular housing for the tribe. Ribbon cutting on these units, the first 28 of 40 in Phase I of the development, was on Aug. 17.

The ambitious project plans for a total of 150 units of housing plus six commercial sites in a subdivision called Black Mesa View. One hundred thirty-five are set to be single-family residences and the other 15 multifamily, for elders.

Attendees of the recent New Mexico Housing Summit sponsored in Albuquerque by the state Mortgage Finance Agency heard that the total financing to date on the project is $5.6 million. Doubtless more will need to be raised. The yearend 2014 completion date may be a bit too optimistic as well. But these 28 modular units represent the first big housing project developed on the reservation for an unbelievable 40 years! And it was the first Title VI loan done in New Mexico for more than a decade.

What’s a Title VI loan? It is a loan authorized by Title VI of the Native American Housing Assistance and Self Determination Act. The loans are 95% guaranteed by the federal government, which makes it puzzling that there aren’t more of them.

The Title VI loan is a project loan (used here for construction and infrastructure). A second HUD loan, the Section 184 guaranteed American Indian mortgage, is used for permanent financing for individual borrowers (although the tribe or its designated housing entity can also be the borrower).

Bottom line is, 28 families from a wait list of more than 300 saw their housing needs filled. Even building all of the rest of this ambitious proposal won’t fill the housing need at this village of more than 3,000 people.