Hoskin announces $30M plan to rehab Cherokee homes, community buildings

BY D. SEAN ROWLEY
Senior Reporter
08/02/2019 03:15 PM
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Cherokee Nation citizen Lola McKinzie speaks with Principal Chief-elect Chuck Hoskin Jr. on Aug. 1 in Claremore. McKinzie received a new roof and air conditioner through housing rehabilitation assistance from the Housing Authority of the Cherokee Nation. D. SEAN ROWLEY/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
Main Cherokee Phoenix
Dist. 7 Tribal Councilor Canaan Duncan prepares for a television news interview on Aug. 1 in Claremore. Duncan is among the councilors sponsoring the Housing, Jobs and Sustainable Communities Act. D. SEAN ROWLEY/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
CLAREMORE – On Aug. 2, while visiting the home of a Cherokee Nation citizen who received housing enhancements from the Housing Authority of the Cherokee Nation, Principal Chief-elect Chuck Hoskin Jr. announced a $30 million proposal to reduce the backlog of requests for housing repairs.

Lola McKinzie, 73, hosted Hoskin and several tribal councilors on her front lawn, and voiced gratitude for the new roof and air conditioning unit installed on her home. She said problems with her roof had drawn the attention of her insurance company.

“It is wonderful to be able to know that you’ve got that new roof, and you’re fully insured,” McKinzie said. “I can’t tell you how much it is, because it’s great.”

According to the CN, 668 Cherokee households – more than 400 of which include citizens who are low income, elders or people with disabilities – are on a HACN waiting list for housing repairs. Requests are commonly for electrical work, climate control systems and roofs.

“We have a wonderful housing program, an award-winning housing authority,” Hoskin said. “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.”

Hoskin said funding would be obtained through dividends from Cherokee Nation Businesses, amounting to $10 million per year for three years. The Housing Jobs and Sustainable Communities Act of 2019 still must get Tribal Council approval, but passage is anticipated.

Three-quarters of the funding will go directly toward the expense of renovating homes, but $7.5 million will go to remodeling or installing energy efficient measures – including solar panels – on non-residential structures, particularly tribal community centers.

Dist. 7 Tribal Councilor Canaan Duncan, of Stilwell, is among those sponsoring the act. His district includes much of Adair County, where the CN reports 110 households requesting rehabilitation. Of the 14 counties within the Nation’s jurisdiction, only Cherokee and Sequoyah counties have more requests with the HACN – with 117 and 112, respectively.

“This news is huge and the need is huge, both in District 7 and District 8, which include Adair County,” Duncan said. “Words can’t express how great it is to be part of something like this. This is something that will not only have an effect now, but affect future generations. It provides safe, adequate living.”

Duncan supported Hoskin’s conditional claim that $30 million would be sufficient to alleviate the backlog and upgrade community centers. However, both allowed for possible cost overruns not currently anticipated.

“(HACN Director) Gary Cooper works with the rehab department and the housing,” Duncan said. “He has seen the needs and been able to look at the list and information in the applications, and give a good estimate of the cost to take care of it.”

The Housing, Jobs and Sustainable Communities Act of 2019 is among the initiatives the Hoskin administration will support in its first 100 days. Hoskin will be sworn in Aug. 14.

“Relying on federal funding alone has led to a great backlog in housing rehab projects that need to be done,” Hoskin said. “For every elder like Lola, there are many more out there that need help. The Cherokee Nation is in a position of strength, particularly in terms of our businesses – they’re very profitable. Today, we are taking the step of shifting a great deal of those dividends from our businesses to help the people that need it the most.”

For information about housing rehabilitation, visit hacn.org, or call 918-456-5482 or 1-800-837-2869.

Housing Rehabilitation Waiting List (by county):

• Adair, 110
• Cherokee, 117
• Craig, 19
• Delaware, 86
• McIntosh, 3
• Mayes, 58
• Muskogee, 35
• Nowata, 15
• Ottawa, 7
• Rogers, 35
• Sequoyah, 112
• Tulsa, 36
• Wagoner, 10
• Washington, 25
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