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CUOMO VISITS KASIGLUK AND BETHEL TO PRESENT $16.6 MILLION IN ASSISTANCE TO AVCP HOUSING AUTHORITY AND $500,000 TO SHELDON'S POINT
BETHEL, ALASKA - Housing and Urban Development Secretary Andrew Cuomo today presented $16.6 million in assistance to the AVCP Housing Authority for housing programs and $500,000 to Sheldon's Point for a washeteria and water treatment plant.
The assistance is part of $79 million in funding Cuomo announced Tuesday for programs to create affordable housing, jobs and economic opportunity in Alaska - including $62 million going directly to Alaska Natives.
The assistance to Alaska Natives is the first installment of $94 million being delivered to tribes in Alaska this year under the newly implemented Native American Housing Assistance and Self-Determination Act (NAHASDA) - up by more than one-third from $68.5 million in HUD assistance to Alaska Natives last year.
Cuomo was on his second day of meetings today with government, business, community and Alaska Native leaders during his visit to Alaska.
Cuomo visited Kasigluk today to tour the small village with AVCP Housing Authority officials and Alaska Native leaders. He presented Don Fancher, Executive Director of the AVCP Housing Authority, with a special recognition plaque for job creation and economic development.
The Secretary also participated in a luncheon with tribal and community leaders in Bethel. Other participants included Mayor Agnes Phillips and Henry Hunter, Chairman of the Board of the Orutsaramuit tribe.
"I've come to Alaska because there's no better way to learn about this vast state than to see it firsthand and meet its people," Cuomo said. "We want you to tell us what your needs are, and how we can help you meet those needs. When I return to Washington, the knowledge I gain on this trip will help me work to make HUD a more effective partner in supporting the efforts of Alaskans to build a better future."
NAHASDA gives all 236 Alaska tribal entities more authority to determine how to use HUD assistance and directs HUD assistance to areas with the greatest needs. The Act reorganized the system of federal housing grants to Alaska Natives and provides tribes with stability by awarding them annual grants that enable them to plan their activities with the knowledge of future funding. The Act allows tribes, for the first time, to receive funds directly from HUD instead of through regional housing authorities.
The goal of the Act is to help create and support affordable housing and provide housing services for low-income Alaska Natives in their own communities. In addition to enabling tribes to use HUD funds for the first time for homeownership programs and for transitional housing for homeless people, NAHASDA will fund new home construction, job training, housing rehabilitation, energy auditing, crime prevention and safety activities.
"The funding we're announcing empowers Alaska Natives for the first time to decide how to spend HUD assistance and it targets assistance to areas with the greatest need," Cuomo said. "This will strengthen our partnership with Alaska Natives and give them the decision-making role they are entitled to in determining their own future."
Governor Tone Knowles said: "The $79 million check that Secretary Cuomo has given Alaska will be used for critical housing and support for so many deserving Alaska families. It is also timely that Secretary Cuomo will visit rural regions of our state devastated by low salmon returns and see the needs of those facing a bleak winter ahead because they could not harvest the salmon that sustains them."
Senator Ted Stevens, Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, which funds HUD programs, said: "It's great news that the Department has released the funds we specifically requested and earmarked in last year's appropriations for the Alaska Native Heritage Center, the Sheldon Point washeteria and water treatment plant, Alaska One training facilities and equipment, and Covenant House renovation. The housing and community development funds that Secretary Cuomo is announcing, most of them made available under the Native American Housing Assistance and Self-Determination Act that Congress passed in 1996, will provide important assistance to many of our communities."
Senator Frank Murkowski said: "Given the huge need for additional housing -- 56,000 units of Native housing needed nationwide, not counting the thousands in Alaska -- it's welcome news that HUD is providing a boost in funding to help improve low-income housing. Affordable, sound housing and efforts to prevent and care for the homeless are not a luxury in Alaska, but a vital necessity in a state where winters in substandard dwellings can be life-threatening."
Congressman Don Young said: "I am delighted with this announcement by HUD. The $79 million will provide much needed assistance to Alaska's unique housing and community development situations. In addition, the grants will assist in the ongoing work to create new jobs and provide opportunities to Alaskan Natives. I am also glad that during his trip to Alaska, Secretary Cuomo was able to see first-hand the challenges our state faces."
HUD funding to Alaska is part of the Department's Consolidated Planning process, which was developed by Cuomo when he served as HUD Assistant Secretary for Community Planning and Development.
The process ensures that local residents have strong input into the creation of comprehensive, community-based housing and economic development plans. The streamlined process gives communities maximum local flexibility, while reducing burdensome regulatory requirements. Local HUD staff are empowered to work closely with communities to customize Consolidated Plans and help them realize their housing and economic development goals.
Content Archived: January 20, 2009