June 24, 2021

Schatz, Murkowski, Tester, Hoeven Introduce Bipartisan Bill to Advance Native American Housing Programs

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Brian Schatz (D-Hawai‘i), chairman of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), vice chairman of the Committee, and U.S. Senators Jon Tester (D-Mont.) and John Hoeven (R-N.D.), former chairmen of the Committee, introduced the Native American Housing Assistance and Self-Determination Reauthorization Act of 2021. U.S. Senators Tina Smith (D-Minn.), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.), Ben Ray Luján (D-N.M.), and Mike Rounds (R-S.D.) joined as original cosponsors.


This bipartisan legislation builds on successful Native American housing programs at the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) authorized by the Native American Housing Assistance and Self-Determination Act (NAHASDA), including the Indian Housing Block Grant and Native Hawaiian Housing Block Grant programs. Bills that would reauthorize NAHASDA have been introduced in every successive Congress since 2013.


“Since it was first signed into law in 1996, NAHASDA has provided billions in federal dollars to Tribes and Native communities in Hawai‘i and across the country,” said Chairman Schatz. “Our bill continues this bipartisan tradition and extends NAHASDA for another decade, giving Native communities the resources they need to help more Native families find safe, affordable housing.”


“The United States must live up to its trust and treaty responsibilities to Tribal communities when it comes to housing,” said Vice Chairman Murkowski. “Our NAHASDA legislation reauthorizes and enacts much needed reforms to streamline housing and related infrastructure projects in Native communities. As our country moves forward from the COVID-19 pandemic, we must ensure that Native communities, including Tribes in Alaska, are part of the recovery and passage of this bipartisan legislation will ensure that.”


“Every family deserves a safe, comfortable place to call home, but the lack of affordable housing is currently at a crisis level across Montana – and Native American communities are no exception,” said Senator Tester. “This critical bill will boost opportunities for folks living in Indian Country by expanding access to housing Montanans can afford and ensuring that more families across our state have a safe place to live.”


“This legislation reauthorizes critical housing programs for Native Americans, helping to provide certainty and greater flexibility for tribes,” said Senator Hoeven. “This is about updating these important programs and further empowering tribes to make the best decisions that will benefit their communities.”


The bill is supported by the National American Indian Housing Council (NAIHC) and the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands.


“The National American Indian Housing Council is pleased to see Senators Schatz and Murkowski continue the Committee’s bipartisan support of tribal housing programs by re-introducing a NAHASDA reauthorization,” said NAIHC Chair Adrian Stevens. “This bill would help native communities by including vital improvements to NAHASDA, providing 10-year authorizations for tribal housing programs, and establish an Assistant Secretary of Indian Housing at HUD to give tribes a greater voice in important policy and budget discussions. NAIHC looks forward to working with the sponsors of this bill and all members of Congress to get NAHASDA reauthorized this Congress.”


“We welcome the reauthorization of NAHASDA at a time where the Hawaiian community is commemorating the 100th centennial of the signing of Hawaiian Homes Commission Act this coming July,” said Hawaiian Homes Commission Chair William J. Ailā Jr. “I would like to acknowledge Senator Schatz, Hawaii’s congressional delegation, and Senator Murkowski for their diligent efforts to bring this legislation forward and we send aloha to our American Indian and Alaska Native cousins for their continued support of Title VIII. The proposed improvements to the program will provide much needed stability and assist DHHL with the creation of more housing units and additional housing services.”


Full bill text is available here.