Cherokee Nation to submit 2 housing plans to HUD

Tribal Councilor Mike Shambaugh, right, stands as fellow Councilor Canaan Duncan gives the invocation for the June 14 Community Services Committee meeting in Tahlequah. Shambaugh chairs the committee. 

TAHLEQUAH – Cherokee Nation leaders passed a pair of resolutions June 14 that authorize submission of Indian housing plans to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Resolution 21-057 was approved for submission of the fiscal year 2021 Indian Housing Block Grant plan to HUD.

“I believe this Indian Housing Block Grant is the approval for us to apply for the grant,” Tribal Councilor Mike Shambaugh said.

The grant, which is part of the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, offers additional funding based on 2021 allocations for eligible affordable housing activities to “prevent, prepare for and respond to the COVID-19 pandemic,” according to the CN.

The second resolution, 21-058, authorizes submission of a $20 million fiscal year 2022 Indian Housing Plan to HUD. According to the tribe, the total amount is based on “a formula that considers housing conditions, population and income levels for families within Cherokee Nation’s reservation area.”

The resolutions were first addressed June 14 in the Community Services Committee. Both were unanimously approved in committee and later by the full Tribal Council.

The Housing Authority of the Cherokee Nation will submit both plans.

During his committee report, Community Services Executive Director Michael Lynn said a rabies clinic was recently conducted in Miami, Oklahoma.

“They gave 260 rabies vaccinations,” he said. “They’ve got them planned in Stilwell, Jay, Salina and Sallisaw at various dates all the way up into September.”

On the transportation side, Lynn reported that the CN was given a green light for Tribal Transportation Program Safety Funding to build a roundabout at U.S. 59 and Oklahoma State Highway 10 in Kansas, Oklahoma.

“We are working with (the Oklahoma Department of Transportation) on a cooperative project there in Kansas on 59 and 10 Highway for a roundabout,” Lynn said. “We were approved for that, and that project is beginning to move forward. You should be hearing more about that in the coming months.”

The Community Services Committee was in favor of a related measure that adopts the project as a priority.

“Basically there was deemed a need for that so we put in for this grant,” Shambaugh said. “We got it and basically, they’re going to build a turnaround there … just south of the turnpike.”

According to a monthly report from Commerce Services Executive Director Anna Knight, under the tribe’s Mortgage Assistance Program, 31 families became homeowners through financial counseling and down payment assistance in May. Since 2009, 1,896 households have used the MAP to purchase a home.

During the Health Committee meeting earlier in the day, Wayne Coldwell of CN Health Services reported 62,220 vaccines as of June 11. He also said CNHS is “having a push” to get CN citizens enrolled with the expansion of Medicaid in Oklahoma.

“We have started enrolling new Medicaid recipients, and that (expansion) goes into effect July 1,” Coldwell said. “It is additional access to care. It allows them to have a payer source, and we are able to provide additional services through contract health services.”

Senior Reporter D. Sean Rowley contributed to this report.