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HUD Archives: News Releases

HUD No. 99-134
Further Information:For Release
In the Washington, DC area: 202/708-0685Wednesday
Or contact your local HUD officeAugust 4, 1999


BROWNING, MT - U.S. Housing and Urban Development Secretary Andrew Cuomo today awarded $500,000 to the Blackfeet Indian Tribe to rehabilitate substandard housing and build a park. The grants bring total HUD assistance to the tribe this year to about $7.4 million.

Cuomo announced the assistance while visiting the Blackfeet Reservation to see housing conditions and meet with Tribal Chairman William Old Chief and other tribal leaders to discuss housing, jobs, and economic development opportunities. Located east of Glacier National Park in Montana, the reservation is home to about 14,600 members of the Blackfeet Tribe.

"I have come to meet with the Blackfeet Tribe as part of the Clinton Administration's efforts to build new relationships and new partnerships with Indian nations," Cuomo said. "For far too long, the first Americans have been locked out of the American Dream of a home, a job and a chance to build a better tomorrow for their children. For far too long, reservations have been islands of poverty in a sea of American prosperity. We will not allow this to continue."

Severe housing shortages and substandard housing are common on the Blackfeet Reservation, and homeownership is rare. Many homes lack kitchens and indoor plumbing. An estimated 28 percent of the population earns less than $7,000 per year.

Since 1993, the Blackfeet Tribe has received $41.4 million in HUD funding.

Nationwide, HUD will provide over $700 million for Native American housing programs this year.

The $500,000 in assistance to the Blackfeet Tribe that Cuomo announced today is in the form of Indian Community Development Block Grants.

A total of $200,000 of the new grants will be used to rehabilitate nine substandard houses. The remaining $300,000 will be used to build a 12,000-square-foot cultural development park that will include a maze, picnic and gathering area, children's dance arbor and amphitheater, natural garden area, walking/running path and rest rooms. The park will be next to the Tribe's Head Start building and will target Head Start children and their families.

HUD assistance granted to the Blackfeet Tribe earlier this year includes:

  • $6.1 million in Indian Housing Block Grant funds to increase homeownership opportunities on the reservation. Homeownership activities include: creating partnerships with lenders, homebuilders and others; assisting potential homebuyers with loan applications; and working with the tribe to identify homebuilding sites. In addition, the grant will be used to develop 20 low-rent units for senior citizens, maintain existing housing stock, improve accessibility to housing, and continue the Section 8 low-income housing program on the reservation.

  • $800,000 in two Rural Housing and Economic Development Grants. A total of $200,000 will be used to support development efforts of the Siyeh Corporation, which is working to increase economic opportunities for the community and will act as a business arm for the Blackfeet Tribe. The remaining $600,000 will be used for economic development support for Pikuni Industries, a manufacturer of steel home products that will create jobs and affordable housing. Reservation residents will be hired and trained by Pikuni to perform welding, carpentry, plumbing, engineering and other work. Pikuni will manufacture steel frame assembly line homes to create affordable housing for reservation residents.

The Blackfeet Reservation is the second reservation that Cuomo has visited this summer. Cuomo joined President Clinton and corporate CEO's in July on a trip to the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota - home of the Oglala Sioux Tribe - as part of the President's New Markets Initiative tour. The tour focused attention on urban and rural areas where unemployment is too high and jobs are too scarce. During the tour, millions of dollars in public and private housing and economic development commitments were secured to help areas left behind.

Cuomo announced a Native American Housing and Economic Development Initiative last spring at the Summit on Native American Homeownership, Legal and Economic Development in Chicago. The initiative goes beyond most federal programs by enabling tribal governments to create non-profit groups that can apply for a share of more than $1 billion in annual assistance under several HUD programs. Because only local governments and non-profit groups are eligible for this type of HUD funding, tribal governments were previously unable to benefit from most of the programs.

Content Archived: January 20, 2009

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