CPF Proposal 1: Ho-Chunk Supportive Housing

St. Dunstan’s Community Project Fund: Housing Grants

In early 2024, St. Dunstan’s will be giving away $70,000 in grants to help address the housing crisis in Dane County and beyond. These funds were set aside to serve those outside our parish, during our capital campaign for a major renovation in 2018-2019. Read more about this process in last week’s special Enews mailing about it.

We have received four grant applications for these funds, and we’ll be sharing about the projects and organizations over the weeks ahead. In mid-January we will begin a parish feedback project where members and friends of St. Dunstan’s can share their thoughts about where you would most like to see our funding go. Please read, reflect, and take notes!

First Application: Supportive Housing for Young Ho-Chunk Families 

Organization: Ho-chunk Housing and Community Development Authority (HHCDA)

Project title: HHCDA Young Family Supportive Housing Project

Who are the Ho-Chunk? 

St. Dunstan’s has been working to deepen our awareness of the history of our land for several years, starting in earnest with a Lenten series in 2021. We have learned that the land where our church stands, which was given to St. Dunstan’s, was taken from the Ho-Chunk people – the native peoples of this land – 125 years earlier by the U.S. government, though coercive treaties and forced removal. We have developed a parish land acknowledgement, have begun to pay an annual voluntary land tax, and continue to look for other restorative actions, such as helping tend the mounds at nearby Governor Nelson State Park.

As our land acknowledgement states, “The ability to gather, worship, learn, and establish our presence as a church came at a great expense of the original inhabitants of this land, the Ho-chunk people, the People of the Sacred Voice… Two hundred years ago, the land where St. Dunstan’s now stands was the outskirts of a Ho-Chunk town, presided over by Chief Kau-kish-ka-ka or White Crow. The residents were caretakers of a sacred landscape, including the fox effigy mound that remains nearby… St Dunstan’s now stands on this land, seeking a new relationship of truth-telling, honor and respect.” (Read the full working draft of St. Dunstan’s land acknowledgement here.)

At the bottom of this message we’ll include a few links to learn more about the Ho-Chunk, their culture and history.


The Proposal: Supportive Housing for Young Ho-Chunk Families 

Grant Request: $35,000 to assist with furnishings  

In order to provide stable, comfortable homes and skills training for these families, HHCDA requests $35,000 from St. Dunstan’s Housing Project grant program to assist with some furnishing of the apartment units, the activity room in the community space, and educational materials.

Mission of the project

The application states, “The Young Families Supportive Housing (YFSH) project embodies HHCDA’s mission “to foster a strong, healthy community of which Ho-Chunk Nation members can be proud, by providing quality, affordable housing and programs that meet social, cultural, and community needs. This mission is similar to the goals of St. Dunstan’s outreach guiding principles, particularly ‘activities and advocacy that serve those in our larger community who need food, clothing, health care, shelter, safety, justice, and love.’”

This is a new project, started in June 2023. The building is currently under construction (with help from a state grant). It should be completed in May, and families will move in in late summer 2024. The HHCDA expects to fund operations through Ho-Chunk Nation resources, state and federal grants, and ongoing fundraising.


Who the project will serve

HHCDA developed this program to help young Ho-Chunk Nation families who need a second chance and do not qualify for traditional housing services. The application explains, “What makes HHCDA’s YFSH unique is the population we will serve. Traditional permanent supportive housing programs like those offered in Madison provide studio apartments, whereas the YFSH will offer a mix of two and three bedroom units for families. This project will benefit ten young Ho- Chunk families by offering stable housing and supportive services. YFSH will have a housing manager and a case manager who will meet young families “where they’re at” regarding the families’ unique life challenges.The persons assisted will be enrolled Ho-Chunk members who are near homeless or homeless, with a head of household 18 years of age or older, who qualify as a family, and have completed all appropriate forms and applications. This facility will help these families by providing a safe, secure home and supportive services including culturally appropriate approaches to holistic healing and health. For example, residents will use the commercial kitchen to prepare the healthy food and healing herbs that they have grown in the community garden.”

This facility will be in Black River Falls, Wisconsin, which is a significant center for the Ho-Chunk Nation. The other applications we will consider are more local, but our grant application process was open to any project addressing housing needs in the state of Wisconsin. An HHCDA representative explained that while the Ho-Chunk population is spread across western, central and southern Wisconsin, anything that helps anyone in the tribe helps the whole tribe. In addition, the supportive housing will be open to Ho-Chunk living anywhere in the state. A family living in Madison could apply for housing once the facility is operational.


Why supportive housing? 

The Young Family Supportive Housing (YFSH) project will help ten young Ho-Chunk Nation (HCN) families by providing stable housing and supportive services. The application states, “It is the goal of YFSH to help these families ‘as they are,’ by removing barriers that may exclude them from traditional housing programs. Some barriers these families face may include addiction/transitioning from recovery programs, lack of childcare, transportation, and employment. The YFSH project will follow the “Housing First” model, utilized by successful permanent supportive housing projects in the Madison area…. The “Housing First” model indicates establishing trust between families and housing providers is the first step to creating lasting connections. Families who feel safe and cared for will be more likely to utilize supportive services. Some supportive services provided will include mental health and substance abuse, life-skills training, child-care assistance and parenting programs, and job skills training.”


More about the Ho-chunk Housing and Community Development Authority

The mission of the Ho-Chunk Housing and Community Development Agencyis to foster a strong, healthy community of which Ho-Chunk Nation members can be proud – through providing members with quality, affordable housing and programs that help meet the Ho-Chunk Nation’s social, cultural, and community needs.

At HHCDA, we serve low-income Ho-Chunk families and communities who do not live on a traditional reservation. Instead, the communities are located on trust lands over a number of counties (Dane county included) in Wisconsin.

The programs of the HHCDA include:

  • Community buildings in different areas, to help meet the Ho-Chunk Nation’s social, cultural, and community needs.
  • Down payment assistance program, inspection cost reimbursement program, and homebuyer education programming for Ho-Chunk or other Native people in their area of service to help them move into homeownership. Forgivable loans for home repairs are also available.
  • Rental assistance for low- to moderate-income Ho-Chunk living in urban areas like Chicago, Dane County, and the Twin Cities, for Ho-Chunk attending college full time, and for low-income Ho-Chunk.
  • Supportive housing for Ho-Chunk veterans: “The Ho-Chunk way of life holds veterans in high regard, and in response to those veterans’ needs, the Legislature appropriated funds for the construction and operation of a 10-unit Veterans Supportive Housing facility… serving homeless and at-risk-of homeless Ho-Chunk [and other Native] veterans,” outside Black River Falls, WI.


Links to Learn More about the Ho-Chunk

A couple of historical overviews that seem in line with how Ho-Chunk leaders talk about their history:



Some facts and figures from the state Department of Public Instruction:


A Ho-Chunk Nation elder tells his people’s oral history: