CDFI Fund Director Jodie Harris Testifies at Senate Committee on Indian Affairs Hearing

Caroline Valvardi

On April 10, CDFI Fund Director Jodie Harris testified at the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs Hearing entitled, “Building Out Indian Country: Tools for Community Development.” Harris spoke about the significant value of CDFI Fund programs in Native communities.

Highlighting the CDFI Fund’s origination of nearly $620 million from FY 2010 to FY 2018 in business and consumer loans and investments to Native CDFIs as well as its support for financial literacy and training programs for nearly 174,000 individuals in Native communities, Harris shared how the CDFI Fund’s Native CDFI Assistance Program (NACA) provides impactful economic benefit to Native populations nationwide.

Harris also requested continued federal support for the NACA program due to the persistent gap in capital access for Native communities, citing a recent report from the Minneapolis Federal Reserve Bank’s Center for Indian Country Development that found that in 2017 alone, Native CDFIs reported $48 million in unmet funding needs from public and private sources.

“Despite the progress made through the NACA program, capital and credit needs in Native communities are high, and access to banking services and products remain a consistent challenge,” stated Harris. “While the CDFI Fund’s Native initiatives have helped move the needle, we recognize that more work remains. The CDFI Fund hopes that its renewed focus on capacity-building can help move the needle even further.”

Fellow witnesses who joined Harris at the hearing were:

The Honorable Tara Mac Lean Sweeney
Assistant Secretary, Indian Affairs
U.S. Department of the Interior, Washington, DC

Mr. Henry Childs II
National Director, Minority Business Development Agency
U.S. Department of Commerce, Washington, DC

Ms. Jacqueline Ponti-Lazaruk
Chief Innovation Officer, Rural Development
U.S. Department of Agriculture, Washington, DC

The Honorable Mark Thompson
Lieutenant Governor, Acoma Pueblo & Board Member
Indian Pueblo Cultural Center, Albuquerque, NM

Read Harris’ full testimony here.

Watch the full hearing here.

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