your internet resource on facebook on twitter on Google+ on soundcloud
phone: 202 630 8439
Fredericks Peebles & Morgan LLP
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 Tribal advocates said the bill gives real meaning to the words "self-determination" in NAHASDA, which was originally enacted in 1996.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:
On Facebook

On Twitter

On Google+

On SoundCloud
Local Links:
Federal Register | Indian Gaming | Jobs & Notices | In The Hoop | Message Board
Latest News:
Native Sun News: Family questions FBI on reservation death (11/25)
Lakota Country Times: Rosebud students earn top scholarship (11/25)
Brandon Ecoffey: Making a difference for people on Pine Ridge (11/25)
Yurok Tribe: Mourning the passing of 'visionary' Troy Fletcher (11/25)
Ned Blackhawk: Supreme Court case jeopardizes tribal rights (11/25)
Steve Russell: The real origins of the world's terrorism crisis (11/25)
Ramona Peters: Sharing a Wampanoag story of Thanksgiving (11/25)
Yatibaey Evans: Let's all teach the truth about Native history (11/25)
Martie Simmons: Every Native parent dreads this time of year (11/25)
Eric Metaxas: The 'miracle' of Squanto and first Thanksgiving (11/25)
Presidential Medal of Freedom presented to late Billy Frank Jr (11/25)
Oneida Nation opens first branch location of tribal-owned bank (11/25)
Virginia tribes continue to pay tribute required by 1677 treaty (11/25)
Chukchansi Tribe reaches new agreement for shuttered casino (11/25)
Poarch Band to welcome visitors to $65M expansion at casino (11/25)
Stillaguamish Tribe debuts eatery and microbrewery at casino (11/25)
Connecticut tribes consider proposals for third gaming facilty (11/25)
Mark Pilarski: Why are games different at some tribal casinos? (11/25)
Tribes seek support for Native language instruction programs (11/24)
Rep. Mullin confirms divisions in Indian Country on Carcieri fix (11/24)
President Obama to award Medal of Freedom to Billy Frank Jr. (11/24)
Sault Tribe pushes for passage of Tribal Labor Sovereignty Act (11/24)
Lakota Country Times: Charles Trimble recognized for writings (11/24)
Native Sun News Editorial: Some new names in Indian Country (11/24)
Jim Kent: South Dakota lands in the news again for corruption (11/24)
John Yellowbird Steele: Bill tries to hijack recognition process (11/24)
Albert Bender: 'The Green Inferno' hits new low in racist films (11/24)
Peter d'Errico: Anti-Indian wars continue in US Supreme Court (11/24)
Anne Keala Kelly: US government wants to steal Hawaii again (11/24)
Counties ask Supreme Court to hear Ute Tribe boundary case (11/24)
Shinnecock Nation considers entering medical marijuana field (11/24)
USDA policy eases return of traditional food to tribal facilities (11/24)
Sitka Tribe asks FBI to consider racial bias in student's arrest (11/24)
Court sides with Indian inmates over closure of sweat lodge (11/24)
Former employee accused of cheating Grand Traverse Band (11/24)
Tribes with special acts of Congress face hurdles for gaming (11/24)
Enterprise Rancheria addresses concerns about gaming site (11/24)
Mohegan Tribe signs partner for $5B casino proposal in Korea (11/24)
Bart Hinkle: States trying to protect their gaming monopolies (11/24)
Blackfeet Nation wins ruling against development at sacred site (11/23)
Center for Native American Youth hires new executive director (11/23)
Quinault Nation slams approval of genetically modified salmon (11/23)
Native Sun News: Great Plains people key in defeating Keystone (11/23)
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.