CN earmarks $13M in federal funds for housing needs
TAHLEQUAH – Prioritizing low-income elders, the Cherokee Nation is investing more than $13 million worth of pandemic-related federal funding into housing needs on top of $30 million already set aside in 2019.
“Here in the Cherokee Nation, we understand that some of our citizens have endured tremendous financial setbacks from COVID-19 – higher utility and food costs from sheltering in place or even loss in wages as businesses shut down back in March, April and May,” Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. said. “We’re dedicating over $13 million to housing needs using these new funds as part of our COVID-19 response.”
CN officials plan to target home repairs, replacements and other needs with a priority on “our fellow citizens who are most in need,” Hoskin said. Funding comes from the CN’s portion of a legislative package that designates $300 million for programs within the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Office of Native American Programs.
“When COVID-9 hit, Cherokee Nation immediately began advocating for more federal resources for all tribes,” Hoskin said. “One of the ways Congress responded was by designating $300 million for Indian Country for COVID-19 related housing assistance.”
As part of the tribe’s Respond, Recover and Rebuild initiative, nearly 2,500 citizens have already been helped with up to three months’ worth of rent or housing payments.
“Earlier this year, Deputy Chief (Bryan) Warner, the (Tribal) Council and I approved the largest tribally funded, low-income housing repair budget in Cherokee history,” Hoskin said. “Now with these new federal dollars, we’ll do even more home repairs and replacements for even more of our citizens who otherwise would have no assistance. Our primary focus, of course, will be on low-income elders and others who are the most vulnerable to, and most impacted by, COVID-19. Putting low-income elders first is the Cherokee way.”
Last summer, the CN earmarked $30 million to help reduce a backlog of requests for housing repairs of more than three years. Hundreds of citizens, many of whom are considered low-income, were at the time on a waiting list for repairs.
“We have a wonderful housing program, an award-winning housing authority,” Hoskin said at the time. “But the resources need to be there, so this will shift our business revenue – a portion of it– to something I think is a very high priority, which is taking care of our elders and those who need it.”
Three-quarters of the funding targets the expense of renovating homes, while $7.5 million will help remodel or install energy efficient measures on non-residential structures, particularly tribal community centers.
For information about housing rehabilitation, visit www.hacn.org or call the Housing Authority of the Cherokee Nation’s website at 918-456-5482.