Today HUD announced more than $404 million in Indian Housing Block Grant (IHBG) allocations for nearly 300 tribes in 27 states. Though the funding is national in scope, it is impactful news at the local level for Native American tribes as varied as the Cherokee Nation in Oklahoma, to the Chilkoot Indian Village in Alaska. Tribes decide the best use of the funds based on their community’s housing needs.
IHBG funds are intended to primarily benefit low-income families living on Indian reservations or in other communities. For some, it means developing affordable housing, offering housing assistance, or providing housing services for families. In other communities, it means infrastructure upgrades, programs that prevent crime or promote safety, and many other model activities that offer creative approaches to affordable housing problems. The block grant approach to housing in American Indian communities is made possible by the Native American Housing Assistance and Self Determination Act of 1996 (NAHASDA,) and HUD is committed to strengthening and building on the government-to-government relationship between the United States and Indian tribes.
“These efforts are part of a broader commitment to ensure Native American communities can build their economies in response to their needs and as they see fit,” HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan said in announcing the IHBG grants.
A few weeks ago, he again emphasized HUD’s continued commitment to America’s Tribal Nations during the White House Tribal Nations Conference hosted by the Obama Administration. In his remarks, Secretary Donovan highlighted the successes of various HUD programs, such as the IHBG program, that have created thousands of housing and job opportunities in Native communities. The key to its success has been the partnership with tribes, he said.
“My charge is clear,” Secretary Donovan said, “to make my agency a better partner to tribal communities – a partner that engages in meaningful consultation and honors our government to government relationship.”