indianz.com your internet resource indianz.com on facebook indianz.com on twitter indianz.com on Google+
ph: 202 630 8439
Indian Law Online Master Degree
Advertise on Indianz.Com
Home > News > Headlines
Print   Subscribe
Indian housing act finally signed into law
Wednesday, October 15, 2008
Filed Under: National | Politics

It took a lot of hard work but a bill to reauthorize the Native American Housing and Self-Determination Act was finally signed into law on Tuesday.

Prospects seemed shaky earlier this year when an unrelated controversy threatened to derail H.R.2786. A compromise on the issue led to passage of the bill in the final days of the 110th Congress.

The update now gives tribes more flexibility to address housing issues throughout Indian Country. Tribal advocates said the bill gives real meaning to the words "self-determination" in NAHASDA, which was originally enacted in 1996.

"Dilapidated houses and over-crowded living conditions lead to weak school performance, poor heath, and contribute to a hopelessness that few Americans witness as part of their daily lives. By reauthorizing NAHASDA, Congress has demonstrated incredible dedication to improve the dire housing conditions that too many Native Americans face," said Marty Shuravloff, the chairman of the National American Indian Housing Council.

According to NAIHC, 14.7 percent of homes on reservations and in Alaska Native villages suffer from overcrowding, compared to 5.7 percent nationally. Nearly 12 percent of reservation and village homes lack complete plumbing, 14 percent lack electricity and 11 percent lack kitchen facilities, rates far higher than the national average.

"This bill is more than just a housing act -- it will give tribes more authority over their own land and truly help build stronger communities in Indian Country," said Sen. Byron Dorgan (D-North Dakota), the chairman of the Senate Indian Affairs Committee.

"Given the great need for improvements in housing stocks for Alaska Natives and Indian tribes nationwide, these changes offer the hope of substantially increasing the availability of quality housing to Native people in the near future," added Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), the committee's vice chair.

The bill, which extends NAHASDA through 2013, marks one of the few substantive achievements for Indian Country in the 110th Congress. A number of tribal-specific bills made it through but the big ticket items -- most notably the reauthorization of the Indian Health Care Improvement Act -- failed to pass.

Some of the inaction can be traced to a controversy involving the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma and its removal of the Freedmen, who are the descendants of former slaves, from tribal rolls. NAIHC earlier this year warned that a failure to resolve the issue could hurt NAHASDA.

But tribal advocates also noted it would be hard to get any major legislation through Congress due to the presidential election. As other issues like the national economic crisis dominated the agenda in the last few weeks, there was a big push to ensure NAHASDA made the cut.

"NAIHC is grateful for the outpouring of support from a broad coalition of tribal leaders nationally and the many tribal housing partners that helped in the final push to get this bill passed before the end of the 110th Congress," said Paul Lumley, the group's executive director. "We couldn't have accomplished this without their support."

Beyond extending the Indian Housing Block Grant program and the Title VI Loan Guarantee Program, the reauthorization makes significant changes so tribes are better able to use federal housing dollars as they see fit. A new subtitle called "Self-Determined Housing Activities for Tribal Communities" recognizes the need for flexibility.

"Tribes need adequate flexibility and autonomy to use Indian Housing Block Grant dollars effectively, efficiently and in a manner that makes the most sense for tribal members' specific needs," said Rep. Steve Pearce (R-New Mexico), who introduced the subtitle.

Another amendment seeks to improve data collection at the Department of Housing and Urban Development. Tribes want more accurate figures to show they are using funds appropriated by Congress wisely.

The bill also seeks to resolve an issue that prompted HUD to withhold $300 million in funds to tribes after a Montana tribe's housing authority won a court case in 2006. The amendment changes the formula at issue in the case but allows tribes to file new lawsuits within 45 days of NAHASDA's enactment into law.

NAHASDA Reauthorization Documents:
Press Release | Text of H.R.2786 | Overview | Section-By-Section Analysis

Related Stories:
Broken promise on Indian health care bill (10/15)
NAHASDA clears Congress with Freedmen provision (09/26)
Cherokee Freedmen dispute a threat to NAHASDA (4/24)
Freedmen issue weighs heavy on Capitol Hill (4/14)
House approves NAHASDA reauthorization (9/7)



Copyright © Indianz.Com
More headlines...
Stay Connected:

Local Links:
Federal Register | Indian Gaming | Jobs & Notices | In The Hoop | Message Board
Latest News:
Eyapaha Today: Oneida singer follows in mother's footsteps (10/22)
Native Sun News: Candidate seeks investigation into program (10/22)
Ivan Star Comes Out: Lakota people disrespect our language (10/22)
Cedric Sunray: Standing together to fight tribal disenrollment (10/22)
SCIA to hold listening session at NCAI on Indian education bill (10/22)
FNDI urges passage for Indian Teacher Loan Forgiveness Act (10/22)
Chumash Tribe praises BIA movement on land-into-trust bid (10/22)
Steven Newcomb: The role of Latin in empire and colonization (10/22)
Christopher Chavis: Navajo court got it wrong in fluency case (10/22)
Navajo Nation presidential hopeful to be removed from ballot (10/22)
Aging BIA school on Navajo Nation awaits replacement funds (10/22)
Review: NMAI treaties exhibit underscores misunderstandings (10/22)
Alaska Native elders and youth share issues at annual meeting (10/22)
Shinnecock Nation allows felons to hold office in certain cases (10/22)
2nd Circuit hears appeal from former chairman of Pequot Tribe (10/22)
Rep. Don Young criticized for comments to high school students (10/22)
Candidates differ on Spokane Tribe's off-reservation casino bid (10/22)
Poarch Creeks to add hotel to casino with $65M expansion plan (10/22)
Salt River Tribe concerned about Tohono O'odham Nation casino (10/22)
North Fork Rancheria blames rival tribes for holding up compact (10/22)
Ballot proposal authorizes more Class III games in South Dakota (10/22)
Blog: Predictions for gaming with Hillary Clinton in White House (10/22)
Native Sun News: Activists take annual swim to Alcatraz Island (10/21)
Mark Trahant: Alaska Natives ready for conference and election (10/21)
BIA announces consultations for secretarial election regulation (10/21)
Chelsey Luger & Gyasi Ross: From slow suicide to slow healing (10/21)
Bill John Baker: Addressing breast cancer in our communities (10/21)
ICT interview with Assistant Secretary Kevin Washburn of BIA (10/21)
Navajo Nation court still mulling decision in presidential case (10/21)
Column: Billy Mills still inspires 50 years after Olympic victory (10/21)
Editorial: Winnebago Tribe's business makes a big contribution (10/21)
Lincoln Indian Center adopts permanent alcohol ban after party (10/21)
Suquamish Tribe shares fish from hatchery at annual giveaway (10/21)
Editorial: Bad move by Northern Arapaho Tribe on joint council (10/21)
Wisconsin court to hear appeal over Oneida Nation waste plant (10/21)
Coeur d'Alene Tribe reaches out to family that lost home to fire (10/21)
Closure of Chukchansi Tribe's casino affects reservation water (10/21)
Eastern Shawnee Tribe considers casino on ancestral Ohio site (10/21)
Town meeting for Lac Vieux Desert Band off-reservation casino (10/21)
North Fork Rancheria won't give up off-reservation casino plan (10/21)
Tohono O'odham Nation was looking for off-reservation casino (10/21)
Poarch Creeks won't confirm or deny talks for gaming compact (10/21)
more headlines...

Home | Arts & Entertainment | Business | Canada | Cobell Lawsuit | Education | Environment | Federal Recognition | Federal Register | Forum | Health | Humor | Indian Gaming | Indian Trust | Jack Abramoff Scandal | Jobs & Notices | Law | National | News | Opinion | Politics | Sports | Technology | World

Indianz.Com Terms of Service | Indianz.Com Privacy Policy
About Indianz.Com | Advertise on Indianz.Com

Indianz.Com is a product of Noble Savage Media, LLC and Ho-Chunk, Inc.