WASHINGTON – Senator John Hoeven (R-ND), chairman of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, yesterday introduced S. 1275, the Building Useful Initiatives for Indian Land Development Act.
The bill will give Indian tribes greater ability to address tribal members’ housing needs by streamlining the federal process for developing housing projects on Indian lands and empowering tribes to have more control over the development of these projects. It will also reauthorize vital housing programs created by the Native American Housing Assistance and Self-Determination Act (NAHASDA).
The legislation is based on input from tribes, tribally designated housing entities, national tribal housing organizations and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
“For many individuals and families throughout Indian Country, housing options are often limited, inadequate or unsafe,” said Hoeven. “This bill will provide tribes with the flexibility and resources to efficiently develop housing projects and meet critical, increasing housing needs in their communities. Most importantly, this legislation will reauthorize the Indian Housing Block Grant and the Loan Guarantee Program. These programs are essential for improving tribal members’ access to safe and affordable homes.”
Specifically, the legislation will enhance tribal housing initiatives by:
- reauthorizing the NAHASDA’s Indian Housing Block Grant and the 184 Loan Guarantee Program through 2025;
- eliminating duplicative requirements that occur when multiple agencies are involved in a tribal housing project, such as meeting additional environmental review standards;
- encouraging investment by extending leaseholds on trust or restricted lands from 50 years to 99 years;
- providing training and technical assistance to Indian housing authorities and tribally designated entities; and
- allowing Indian tribes to leverage their NAHASDA Indian Housing Block Grant funds for the purpose of meeting matching or cost participation requirements under other federal and non-federal housing programs.
The Native American Housing Assistance and Self-Determination Act of 1996 reorganized federal housing aid that Native Americans received. The reorganization empowered tribes by replacing several separate assistance programs with block grant and loan guarantee programs.
In 2002 and in 2008, the NAHASDA was reauthorized for five years. Authorization of the Act expired on September 30, 2013.
This bill intends to reauthorize and improve upon NAHASDA provisions that empower tribes to address homelessness and under-housing needs in Indian Country, including the block grant and loan guarantee programs.
For bill text click here.