Cherokee Nation to build homes again
3/28/2012 8:21:55 AM
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Workers brick one of three model homes at the Housing Authority of the Cherokee Nation complex along Highway 62 in Tahlequah, Okla. The Cherokee Nation, under the Bill John Baker administration, will resume building homes for CN citizens.
DILLON TURMAN/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
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Workers brick one of three model homes at the Housing Authority of the Cherokee Nation complex along Highway 62 in Tahlequah, Okla. The Cherokee Nation, under the Bill John Baker administration, will resume building homes for CN citizens. DILLON TURMAN/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
Related articles: Tribe begins taking new housing apps April 2 New homes to range from 2 to 4 bedrooms BY JAMI CUSTER and CHRISTINA GOODVOICE Reporter and Multimedia Editor TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – Cherokee Nation Housing Services officials plan to build nearly 300 new homes per year for tribal citizens under a New Construction Home Ownership Program, which will begin taking applications April 2. David Southerland, executive director of Housing and Community Development, said the housing strategy changed under the Bill John Baker administration. “The biggest strategy change from the previous administration is to actually construct homes,” Southerland said. “We’re still going to have mortgage assistance, home rehab and rental assistance, we’re just adding the component of building new homes.” Southerland said during the years there has not been a lot of new home development through the Mortgage Assistance Program. “A lot of the homes that were newer have been bought, there’s just not a lot of development going on in the price range that we’re talking about of the folks we’re serving,” he said. “It’s tough when you move into a new house and six months later you have something that screws up and you have to fix something. We’re in the business of serving low-income folks. We think it’s important to put newer stock on the ground.” Another change is that the tribe will not be relying heavily on federal money to build the homes, which means it can make applicant requirements somewhat more lenient, he said. “We’re doing new construction and we’re trying to do it as a non-federal,” Southerland said. Another adjustment deals with the companies that will be contracted to build the homes. In the past the tribe would bid out to any contractor, but now it’s trying to use smaller contractors and bring more work to other people. “The HACN will act as the general contractor in this construction. We’re using smaller sub(contractors) when we bid out the model homes. If you were general and were allowing subs, we didn’t allow it. Whoever bid had to do the work,” he said. Everything under the housing change has been bid out through the Tribal Employment Rights Office, except for some supplies. “The only four that were not TERO was the lumber, concrete, truss and brick (suppliers),” Southerland said. With the new homes, Southerland expects some jobs to open up within the tribe, too. “We anticipate two positions to open up, more in construction ¬– qualified inspectors – since we’re acting as the general contractor,” he added. With the tribe discontinuing the self-help program, Southerland said there are six homes through the self-help program that they are trying to finish up and seven others they are considering before building new homes. “There are seven that we are looking at, the last seven. I think I was told last week that the ones we’re working on this week will be done in a couple of weeks,” he said.

jami-custer@cherokee.org

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