July 19, 2007

Turtle Mountain Chairman Urges Congress to Improve Indian Housing Assistance

Congress should act to improve unmet housing needs in Indian Country, Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians Chairman David Brien testified Thursday at an official Indian Affairs Committee hearing chaired by U.S. Senator Byron Dorgan (D-ND).
Dorgan, Chairman of the Indian Affairs Committee, agreed saying the federal government must make significant improvements to end Third World living conditions on some of our Indian Reservations. Dorgan scheduled the hearing to review legislation he is drafting reauthorizing the Native American Housing Assistance and Self-Determination Act (NAHASDA) in order to provide better housing assistance.
Brien stated that Turtle Mountain Indian Reservation is in need of an additional 635 homes. In addition, 20% of the existing homes are overcrowded and 25% of the homes are in need of repair.
“NAHASDA has been very important in allowing the tribe considerable self-determination in providing housing for its low-income members,” said Brien. “Tribal members living in their homelands throughout this country suffer everyday from the most serious unmet housing needs in the nation. NAHASDA has been employed effectively to deliver federal funds that may be leveraged with other funding and financing. However, the continuing failure to appropriate sufficient funding for NAHASDA has proved to be a real roadblock in solving the often deplorable housing conditions we face on our reservations.”
“For far too long the federal government has not upheld its responsibility to provide adequate housing conditions on Indian reservations,” said Dorgan. “We are working to draft legislation to reauthorize and improve NAHASDA that will put the federal government on a path to meet its obligations to American Indians.