|HUD No. 14-1022
October 22, 2014
HUD SECRETARY JULIÁN CASTRO AND SENATOR HEIDI HEITKAMP VISIT TURTLE MOUNTAIN, WILLISTON TO VIEW FIRSTHAND UNIQUE HOUSING NEEDS IN INDIAN COUNTRY AND WESTERN NORTH DAKOTA
WASHINGTON - Today, Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Julián Castro, and U.S. Senator Heidi Heitkamp visited Belcourt to view housing challenges with black mold and overcrowding on the Turtle Mountain reservation, and toured Williston to examine the city's rapidly expanding housing and infrastructure developments.
During the visit, Castro and Heitkamp announced two major HUD initiatives to help improve some of the state's unique and diverse housing challenges. By the end of the year, HUD will make $6 million in competitive grants available for the Indian Community Development Block Grant (ICDBG) program, a community building initiative that will assist with mold remediation on tribal lands. HUD has also approved emergency waivers for Fair Market Rents (FMRs) (www.heitkamp.senate.gov/public/_cache/files/bd5936e9-e8c4-4577-8d68-54f39eabdeb7/doc-fmr.pdf) - affordable housing rates for low-income households - in nine western North Dakota counties, providing public housing authorities with more flexibility to meet the needs of local residents.
These initiatives will help address some of the dire health conditions experienced in some tribal homes as a result of black mold growth, as well as concerns with a lack of affordable options available for low-income families who struggle to find adequate or available housing in western North Dakota that is within federal market rate restrictions.
"Housing provides the foundation for families to build a better life," said Secretary Castro. "We are focused on addressing the affordable housing crisis and today's action will give public housing authorities in this region the flexibility they need to help low-income families afford a place to rent. We are also partnering with tribal communities to ensure no child or person gets sick in their own home. That is why today we are proud to announce a new set of grants to help tribal communities eliminate and prevent mold in their homes. HUD plays an important role in expanding opportunity for all and we will continue to partner with local leaders, including Senator Heitkamp, to ensure that this community continues to thrive."
"Addressing North Dakota's complex housing challenges requires strong federal partners who have seen what it's really like for our families on the ground," said Heitkamp. "That's why I am so grateful to Secretary Castro for accepting my invitation to come to North Dakota to see firsthand the severe issues our Native tribes are dealing with in terms of rampant overcrowding, and health hazardous black mold. As I stressed to him this summer, the vast population and housing expansions in Williston are presenting new infrastructure challenges - and I'm glad he made a point of seeing it in person. Secretary Castro's announcements today of $6 million in funding for black mold remediation on our tribal lands, as well as HUD's emergency waiver for Fair Market Rents in nine of our western counties show that he is committed to setting a foundation for a long-lasting relationship with North Dakota, and I look forward to building that relationship for the future of our growing state."
Heitkamp invited Castro to visit North Dakota in June (www.heitkamp.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/2014/7/heitkamp-votes-to-confirm-hud-secretary-urges-him-to-visit-north-dakota-to-see-state-s-housing-needs-firsthand) to view North Dakota's urgent and complex housing. Last month (www.heitkamp.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/2014/9/heitkamp-expresses-concerns-that-new-hud-affordable-housing-rates-do-not-account-for-north-dakota-s-population-boom), Heitkamp sent a letter to Castro on HUD's newly proposed FMRs for North Dakota, raising concern that the rates do not accurately reflect the state's booming population, particularly in the western part of the state.
HUD's mission is to create strong, sustainable, inclusive communities and quality affordable homes for all. HUD is working to strengthen the housing market to bolster the economy and protect consumers; meet the need for quality affordable rental homes: utilize housing as a platform for improving quality of life; build inclusive and sustainable communities free from discrimination; and transform the way HUD does business. More information about HUD and its programs is available on the Internet at www.hud.gov and espanol.hud.gov. You can also follow HUD on twitter @HUDnews, on facebook at www.facebook.com/HUD, or sign up for news alerts on HUD's News Listserv.