September 29, 2017

Udall Introduces Legislation to Reauthorize Critical Tribal Housing Bill

WASHINGTON — U.S. Senator Tom Udall, vice chair of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, U.S. Senators Jon Tester (D-Mont.), Al Franken (D-Minn.), and Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii), all members of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, and U.S. Senator Mazie K. Hirono (D-Hawaii) introduced a bill to reauthorize the Native American Housing Assistance and Self-Determination Act (NAHASDA) through 2022. NAHASDA helps provide safe and affordable housing for Tribes and their members, and helps address an urgent need for housing assistance in Indian Country. Additionally, the legislation reauthorizes housing assistance and housing loan guarantees for Native Hawaiians through 2022. 
Udall’s legislation also includes the reauthorization of the bipartisan Tribal HUD-VASH program, which recently passed the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs. The Tribal HUD-VASH program provides rental and housing assistance to homeless and at-risk homeless veterans in Indian Country, through the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). 
“Safe, well-built housing is a fundamental necessity for building strong, healthy communities, and this legislation will help ensure Tribal communities have quality housing while also driving further investments into Indian Country,” Udall said. “Given the housing crisis in all of Indian Country, we must do all we can to make sure NAHASDA is fully authorized for all Native communities. NAHASDA is a critically important program that has been held up for too long, and I look forward to working with my Senate and House colleagues to see this essential bill passed and signed into law.”
“Every family deserves a safe and warm place to lay their head at night,” said Tester. “This bill will improve the health and safety of families and communities, while addressing the housing crisis that has stifled economic development in Indian Country.” 
“Our bill will help break down some of the long-standing barriers native families, including Native Hawaiians, face when trying to find safe, affordable housing,” said Schatz. “We must continue to find more ways to support our native communities, and fighting for housing is an important part of that work.”
“NAHASDA has helped thousands of Native Hawaiian families through housing assistance and loan guarantee programs, and we must ensure that NAHASDA is fully authorized for Native Hawaiians, Alaska Natives, and Native Americans,” said Hirono. “I thank Senator Udall for his leadership and look forward to working with my colleagues to pass this legislation.” 
In addition to introduction of the legislation in the Senate, U.S. Representative Steve Pearce (R-N.M.) introduced companion language in the House of Representatives. 
“Prosperity and opportunity have eluded Native American families on tribal lands for too long. From increased access to quality housing, to lease-to-own programs aimed at providing rural tribes with the resources and flexibility to develop modern communities, NAHASDA assists tribes in meeting the unique housing challenges of each community with independence and self-choice. These reforms provide faster approval of projects, allowing tribes to focus on economic development and innovation rather than administrative processes. The bill also reduces inefficiencies within government spending, and ultimately aids some of the most vulnerable communities in our country with real opportunity to improve. I thank my colleagues in the House and Senate who have worked with me in a truly bipartisan, bicameral effort to reduce the burden on tribes and expand opportunity in Native American housing. By working across the aisle and with tribal leaders nationwide, we are helping to lay the foundation for real, concrete reforms needed in tribal communities,” said Pearce.
“The National American Indian Housing Council appreciates the work of Senator Udall, Congressman Pearce, and all the cosponsors of the NAHASDA reauthorization,” said Sami Jo Difuntorum, chairwoman, National American Indian Housing Council. “Since 1996 NAHASDA has allowed tribes to take control of housing development in their communities, and these bills include vital improvements to the program.  NAIHC stands ready to work with the sponsors and other members of Congress to move the bills through the House and Senate as quickly as possible.”
In 1996, Congress first passed NAHASDA to help ensure that Tribes and their members are provided safe and affordable housing, and that housing programs meet the needs of Tribal members well into the future.