HEARTH ACT Signed into Law
President Obama signed the Helping Expedite and Advance Responsible Tribal Homeownership (HEARTH) Act into law on July 30, 2012. The HEARTH Act passed both the House of Representatives and the Senate with bipartisan support and will authorize tribes to lease certain tribal lands without having to get prior approval for each project from the Secretary of the Interior.
The HEARTH Act amends the Indian Long-Term Leasing Act of 1955 which required those wishing to build homes and business on tribal lands to submit surface site leasing applications to the Department of the Interior (DOI). Leasing applications ultimately required approval from the Secretary of the Interior. This process often delayed important housing, business and economic development projects in Native communities, given that it is not uncommon for the DOI to take more than a year to approve a tribal surface site lease.
The passage of the HEARTH Act will significantly reduce the wait time for approval and ease the homebuying process for tribal families. Tribes that choose to participate will initially submit regulations to the Secretary of the Interior. After secretarial approval, tribes will use those regulations to process applications for trust land leases, rather than waiting for them to go through the DOI.
For more information on the HEARTH Act visit the National American Indian Housing Council at http://naihc.net.