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2000 Best Practice Awards

Best of the Best Winners: Oklahoma


Best Practice: Choctaw Nation Modular Home Program

Modular Homes Provide Solutions for Affordable Housing Shortages

Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Budget and building constraints are just two of the many factors that can delay the construction of affordable housing for low-income and elderly residents. The Choctaw Nation Indian Housing Authority in Oklahoma has found a way to successfully address the needs of its community and creatively operate within these budgetary and building restrictions.

The Housing Authority was faced with several challenges in providing homeownership for local families. The median household income for Native American families is 80% or less of the

Photo of recipients receiving award from Secretary Cuomo & Deputy Secretary Ramirez
Recipients (c) receiving Best of the Best award from Secretary Cuomo (l) and Deputy Secretary Ramirez (r)

national median. Combined with the immediate need for housing, the Housing Authority created a Modular Home Program that provides affordable housing for low-income Native Americans.

The benefit of modular construction is in the initial building of the homes in an off-site indoor facility—allowing for faster year-round construction as opposed to conventionally constructed on-site homes. Not only does this form of housing tackle the challenges in the seasonal construction market they also are approximately 40% percent cheaper to build than comparable on-site construction.

The Choctaw Nation Indian Housing Authority has also encompassed several of the needs of the residents within the new community. The local Choctaw food distribution program delivers meals to the elderly residents and the new homes are centrally located near the community centers where Choctaw Health Representatives schedule periodic visits to provide basic health services. With the knowledge that many of its residents are elderly, the housing authority provides all landscaping and building maintenance.

The tribe completed 20 homes in the first year of the program’s operation, including seven homes that were built for the independent elderly. In addition to providing affordable, energy-efficient homes, the Modular Home Program also provides employment for Choctaw tribal members and an opportunity for training in a skilled craft. Several Choctaw youth have completed the apprentice program after graduating from high school and they are proficient framing carpenters who are able to train others in the apprentice program.

The Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma in partnership with the Coalgate Industrial Authority and HUD has provided a model well suited for replication. In the housing arena, where new and innovative building design comes with a high price, the Choctaw Nation Indian Housing Authority answers its housing needs efficiently, and well within its operating budget.

Contact: Russell Sossamon, Phone: 580-326-7521 Ext. 238
Tracking Number: 1385
Winning Category: Program (Office of Native American Programs)


Best Practice: May 3rd Tornado Recovery

HUD Deploys Teams to Respond to Housing Needs Following Tornadoes

Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. When a rash of tornadoes swept through the central portion of Oklahoma, in May 1999, killing 46 people and injuring 800 others, they caused $1.5 billion in damages, becoming the most expensive tornado disaster in U.S. history with $1.5 billion in damages. The Oklahoma City HUD office immediately responded to the recovery efforts by activating an Advance Team (A Team) and a Response Team (R Team). While HUD mobilizes disaster response teams in times of need, this is the first time that HUD staff used computers with modem hookups to set up a database of properties available for lease.

Kevin McNeely receiving Best of the Best award
Kevin McNeely (c) receiving Best of the Best award from Secretary Cuomo (l) and Deputy Secretary Ramirez (r)

By the time Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA) arrived at the disaster scene, the R Team had already called every apartment complex in Oklahoma to locate available rental properties and set up the information in a database for FEMA’s use in assisting victims. The properties in the database included both HUD and private market units for lease with first option to buy.

In addition, the HUD R Team members also accomplished the following to help the victims of the Oklahoma tornadoes:

  • Helped open and staff five disaster recovery centers
  • Provided information to victims on available housing resources, such as rental assistance and forbearance procedures
  • Interviewed more than 500 Federal Housing Administration (FHA) loan holders in person to determine if they had a loan; and contacted mortgage lenders for victims
  • Worked with Volunteer Organizations to Aid in times of Disaster (VOAD) to insure that VOAD was providing correct information and referrals to victims
  • Worked with residents of a Section 8 development that had been completely destroyed to assist them in finding housing
  • Made HUD real estate owned (REO) properties available to victims and worked with the victims and the HUD listing broker to lease the properties
  • For more than 500 victims, retrieved information, through modem hookups, on properties that had FHA loans and, in many cases, contacted the mortgage company for victims.

The A Team attended all FEMA briefing meetings and kept both HUD and FEMA aware of the housing-related issues. The team also obtained various waivers of HUD policies to allow public housing authorities and cities latitude in assisting the rebuilding effort.

HUD’s response to the crisis lasted long after the initial response. HUD made available $250,000 in HUD technical assistance funds available for to affected cities and towns. In July, the HUD Office sponsored “Rebuilding Oklahoma…A Housing Fair for Victims of the May 3 rd Tornadoes.” Through radio advertising and mailings (the post office set up mailboxes for tornado victims on semitrucks) HUD staff informed 9,000 people of the fair. The event, which attracted 2,000 people affected by the tornadoes, provided information on programs that were available to assist victims in the rebuilding or purchasing of a replacement home. Forty vendors representatives from HUD, mortgage companies, Veteran’s Affairs, credit bureau and counseling agencies, real estate agencies and building, and housing authorities, were also present. A local credit bureau provided free credit reports.

Contact: Sherry Hunt, Phone: 405-553-7523
Tracking Number: 904
Winning Category: Program (Community Builder)

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Content Archived: April 20, 2011

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