|Home | En Español | Contact Us | A to Z|
HUD Archives: News Releases
CUOMO ANNOUNCES PLAN TO REMOVE ROADBLOCK TO HOUSING DEVELOPMENT ON INDIAN RESERVATIONS, DRAWS TRIBAL SUPPORT
WASHINGTON - Housing and Urban Development Secretary Andrew Cuomo today announced a plan to finalize environmental reviews for new subsidized housing on Indian reservations - ending a crisis that could have cost tribes millions of dollars and deprived families of needed homes.
Cuomo said that under the four-point plan, HUD will work in partnership with tribes to ensure that environmental reviews are properly completed and submitted for proposed HUD-subsidized affordable housing on reservations.
HUD's action lifts a roadblock that has prevented some Indian tribes from opening new low-income housing on their reservations for months, although the housing was already built or under construction. Tribes also faced the prospect of having to return millions of dollars in HUD funds used to build the housing - an action that could have forced some tribes into bankruptcy.
Tribes immediately benefiting from Cuomo's announcement, and the amount of funds they could have lost if not for the new plan, are: the Coeur d'Alene Tribe in Idaho ($3.3 million); and the Yakama Tribe ($969,000) and Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe ($1.4 million), both in Washington State. Other tribes faced with difficulties in completing legally required environmental reviews of new HUD-assisted housing will benefit in the future from the action announced by Cuomo.
The tribes could have lost HUD funding because environmental reviews they conducted at the housing sites did not meet all the complex and detailed requirements of federal law. The tribes made minor errors - such as failing to send a form to HUD on time after completing an environmental review, or not publishing a proper legal notice of a project.
Cuomo's announcement drew immediate support from: Ernie Stensgar, President of the Affiliated Tribes of Northwest Indians and Chairman of the Coeur d'Alene Tribe; Dave Bell, Executive Director of the Southern Puget Sound Inter-Tribal Housing Authority in Washington State; John Williamson, Executive Director of the Lower Elwha Klallam Housing Authority; and Yakama Tribal Council Chairman William F. Yallup and Yakama Nation Board of Commissioners Chairman Fred Ike. (SEE ATTACHMENT).
"Too many families in Indian Country face some of the worst housing conditions in America - living in terribly overcrowded shacks without electricity or plumbing, sometimes even living in cars," Cuomo said. "These conditions are intolerable. Indian families should not - and will not - lose desperately needed housing because of minor paperwork errors."
Under HUD's four-point plan to help tribes overcome technical obstacles involving environmental reviews, the Department will:
HUD's budget provides over $700 million for Native American housing programs this year. An estimated 288,000 American Indians and Alaska Natives live in HUD-subsidized housing on reservations and other tribal areas around the nation.
John Williamson, Executive Director of the Lower Elwha Klallam Housing Authority: "This is a positive response that HUD has put forth to address this issue. It makes for a better working relationship for Indian tribes and HUD in the future."
Ernie Stensgar, President of the Affiliated Tribes of Northwest Indians and Chairman of the Coeur d'Alene Tribe: "Secretary Cuomo and his staff have demonstrated how government should work - addressing a problem and solving it. This is a fine example for HUD and the Clinton Administration of government-to-government cooperation with tribes. Most importantly, it takes away the unnecessary hardships from those so desperately in need of housing."
Yakama Tribal Council Chairman William F. Yallup and Yakama Nation Board of Commissioners Chairman Fred Ike, in a joint statement: "On behalf of the Yakama Nation, we are pleased to learn that Secretary Cuomo has reconsidered HUD's previous decision regarding environmental reviews and is releasing certain tribes from HUD-imposed sanctions. This decision represents a major shift in HUD policy in that Secretary Cuomo has recognized the need for flexibility and consultation in implementing HUD statutes and regulations."
Dave Bell, Executive Director of the Southern Puget Sound Inter-Tribal Housing Authority in Washington State: "Without the close assistance and environmental training provided by the Seattle (HUD Office of Native American Programs) staff, and trust, guts, determination, and technical savvy all around, this project could have been literally dead in the chute from the get-go."
Content Archived: January 20, 2009