HUD funds for Cherokee Nation still frozen

BY WILL CHAVEZ
Assistant Editor – @cp_wchavez
10/11/2011 07:54 AM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – Suspended housing funds meant for the Cherokee Nation following the Aug. 22 suspension of Cherokee Freedmen citizenship have not yet been allocated.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development has suspended the $33 million in funding while it studies the CN Supreme Court’s Aug. 22 ruling that a March 2007 constitutional amendment approved by Cherokee voters is valid. The amendment prevented Freedmen descendants without Indian blood from being CN citizens.

Acting Principal Chief Joe Crittenden said though the CN has agreed with a provision to reinstate citizenship to 2,800 Freedmen and allow them to vote, the HUD funds remain frozen.

“Despite the Cherokee Nation's compliance with this provision, disbursements from HUD remain temporarily suspended. Housing and Urban Development is still in the process of reviewing the statutory provision that places conditions on the funding agreement with the Cherokee Nation, which is related to Cherokee Freedmen citizenship,” he said.

He added the CN’s attorney general is working aggressively to resolve this matter with both local and regional HUD offices.

When the CN attempted to draw Native American Housing Assistance and Self Determination Act funds from its HUD account on Aug. 31 it was prevented from getting the $33 million in funds.

A statement from Deputy Assistant HUD Secretary Jereon Brown at that time said HUD had suspended NAHASDA fund disbursements to the CN “while we seek additional guidance on an unclear statute involving the Freedmen. He added housing funding could be restored “once the issue is resolved.”

Housing Authority of the Cherokee Nation Executive Director David Southerland said the tribe began receiving NAHASDA funds from HUD in 1998, and the funding amount has steadily increased since then when the CN received $24 million.

A majority of the NAHASDA funding, nearly $11 million, is used by Housing Services. The tribe’s commerce department receives nearly $5.7 million for mortgage assistance and other housing programs; Human Services receives nearly $5.2 million and Community Services nearly $2.3 million. The remaining funds are allocated to CN Career Services, Environmental Services, the Marshal Service, Delaware Tribal Housing and indirect costs.

“It’s pretty much the day-to-day operations of all the housing functions that this (HUD funding) pays for,” Southerland said. “The biggest part of my funding comes from NAHASDA.”

Southerland said Housing Services has $20 million in carry over funds from the last fiscal year, which should sustain housing services if the funding crisis continues.

“We knew there would be some carryover that we could operate on and we can look to other non-federal sources if we get into a situation where it’s an extended period of time,” Southerland said. “Our contingency plan is to be operating the entire fiscal year (2012).

will-chavez@cherokee.org • 918-207-3961
About the Author
Will Chavez is a Cherokee/San Felipe Pueblo Indian who has worked in the newspaper and public relations field for 25 years. During that time he has performed public relations work for the Cherokee Nation and has been a writer, reporter and photographer for the Cherokee Advocate and Cherokee Phoenix newspapers. 

For many years h ...
WILL-CHAVEZ@cherokee.org • 918-207-3961
Will Chavez is a Cherokee/San Felipe Pueblo Indian who has worked in the newspaper and public relations field for 25 years. During that time he has performed public relations work for the Cherokee Nation and has been a writer, reporter and photographer for the Cherokee Advocate and Cherokee Phoenix newspapers. For many years h ...

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