Regional Administrator Rick Garcia
12/1/10 Presentation to the NPONAP Conference
Native American Housing in Westminster, Colorado

Good morning and thank you Randy. Let me begin with a big welcome to Denver Colorado and particularly Westminster, Colorado. This is a beautiful facility; a newer facility in our suburb, just north of the urban city of Denver. Westminster has sprung up and grown immensely over the years to be able to support such a beautiful facility.

[Photo 1: Audience seated at event]
Opening plenary session

But most importantly this morning, as the Region VIII Administrator of the Rocky Mountain Region, let me bring you greetings from our Secretary in Washington: Shaun Donovan.

This meeting is an important initiative and conference. Denver, Colorado, is the first of many sessions that are taking place on identifying and working very diligently on the topic of Native American Housing needs throughout our country.

I'm pleased to be here in particular because the Native American Office- Program Office in Region VIII that Randy Ackers is in charge of in the Northern Plains area is, I believe, the heart of Indian Country and a big part of the activities here in the Rocky Mountain West that I'm involved with, as well as all the Field Office Directors in our six-state Region of Colorado, Utah, Wyoming, Montana, North Dakota, and South Dakota.

I understand that all the tribes in the Northern Plains area are represented here today. That's a great start and I congratulate you for your leadership in being here today.

As I was speaking with Deputy Assistant Secretary Roger Boyd, who you'll be hearing from shortly, I was reminded that Secretary Shaun Donovan spent some time on his first visit to a Native American reservation in Montana about 18 to 20 months ago. It was part of that visit I think that inspired the Secretary to step up and say "it's time that we updated the plans for housing objectives in the Native American communities throughout the Nation" and thus, this particular initiative was created.

[Photo 2: 2 Waterbird drum group members performing]
Opening ceremony by Waterbird drum group

I personally have also been involved with tours with the Secretary since I've become Regional Administrator. Earlier this year and through the summer I toured the Rosebud Indian Reservation in South Dakota with the Secretary and also our Office of Native American Program Office Director Randy Ackers. Also joining us at Rosebud was U.S. Senator Johnson. We toured housing at the Rosebud community and an interesting project that involved manufacturing homes within a large warehouse facility. The homes can be built year round and then moved and put onto a building site when the weather improves. Yet the construction jobs generated are year-round since the work is done indoors. I think this is a very creative program the tribe has developed in the Rosebud community.

During that same visit, I also attended a joint Senate Banking and Housing Affairs Committee field hearing in Rapid City, South Dakota, on Indian Housing. I listened to several Tribal Leaders on very particular needs of Tribal Housing. There's no question of the housing demand and need for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to step up and find more creative and innovative ways to ensure that Native Housing is made available.

More recently, I have been involved in the Spirit Lake Indian Reservation in North Dakota. I witnessed the extreme need for quality affordable housing. In fact, we're working with the Federal Emergency Management Agency to develop a long term recovery strategy for the Spirit Lake Community, not only around housing needs and a variety of other quality, social, and other economic needs.

The Region VIII HUD team is working with the Department of Transportation and Environmental Protection Agency to foster sustainable communities on Tribal lands. Our partnership aims to address community needs for housing, transportation, and what we also refer to as Green Building Design. One of my additional duties as the Regional Administrator is to serve the Secretary as one of the Senior Advisors on Sustainable Development. You might say "well what is that?"

The Rocky Mountain West is one of those unique areas that I believe we have a tremendous amount of opportunity in the traditional HUD Programs, but also in our Native American Programs, because of the vastness and geography that we're blessed with in the Rocky Mountain West. We have natural opportunities; natural resources, such as wind and sun that could potentially fuel some of our renewable energy requirements as a Nation. At the same time they can also provide energy efficiency; energy conservation; and land preservation opportunities for the Rocky Mountain West, which I think many Tribes in the Rocky Mountain West have already been leaders in. Some are starting wind farms and developing solar energy. I salute you for that.

HUD is also interested in providing the platform for housing initiatives to be sustainable developments in the Rocky Mountain West. This partnership has already provided these agencies with the opportunity to explore unique and creative funding opportunities for the Tribes of all Northern Plains Regions.

[Photo 3: Rick Garcia speaking at podium with Randy Akers listening in background]
Welcoming remarks by Regional Administrator Rick Garcia with Randy Akers listening

We hope that this particular conference will provide direction, ideas, creativity, and innovation. We're just starting here in Denver, but throughout the country, we can come up with creative directions and ideas to ensure that we're providing not just the basic housing needs for Tribes, but other kinds of sustainable opportunities that are going to improve and enhance the quality of life and help sustain the Tribal traditions of your particular communities.

Throughout the next few days you have an opportunity to share your stories and needs based on your direct experiences.

This week you'll have an opportunity to work with other tribal representatives that are here, as well as HUD staff from the North Plains Office of Native American Programs. I want to give Director Randy Ackers and his staff some acknowledgement for being one of the most talented staff in the nation, I believe.

There are other public officials and private stakeholders that will discuss some of the needs to eliminate the barriers and take progressive and proactive actions to develop new approaches to sustainability and Native American housing. This new base line and definitions of housing needs for Tribal communities will result, I believe. As participants in this conference, you will have the opportunity to influence future designs and the kinds of products and services used, physical structures, and heating. I want to make sure that you have an opportunity to provide that kind of direct influence on the design impacting the National Indian Housing Study. You'll have influence right from the beginning. We need you at the table. We need to ensure that we're listening to our customers and our partners in this regard, so that we can do the best job possible when designing future programs that are going to make the highest impact for you.

So your input in this process is greatly valued. It's important and will result in positive impacts in your perspective communities. This is a great opportunity and it's indeed again an honor and a privilege.

Let me also acknowledge again, I alluded to our special visitor from HUD in Washington, Mr. Rodger Boyd. You'll be hearing from him shortly, but also we welcome all other elected public officials that are participating in this inaugural Indian housing needs conference today in Denver, Colorado. You're making history.

It's been well over a decade since there's been a serious effort to identify Native American housing needs. We expect lots of energy and lots of creativity. You're in a great setting. You're in a great part of the Rocky Mountain West. Again, I welcome you and applaud you for participating in this vital conference. Thank you very much.


Content Archived: October 25, 2016