March 17, 2017
VINITA, Okla. — The Cherokee Nation broke ground Friday on 11 new homes being built in a new addition in Vinita, a town of more than 5,500 in Craig County.
The three-bedroom homes are being built through the New Home Construction Program, which was implemented by Principal Chief Bill John Baker in 2012. The homes will feature one and a half bathrooms with 1,003 square feet of living space and a garage.
“Access to safe housing is a key to good health and remains a critical piece of the foundation for success for Cherokee families,” Chief Baker said. “In Craig County we have created jobs, expanded health care and invested in public education. Now this opportunity for Cherokee Nation citizens to become homeowners ensures our tribal government is truly improving the lives of our people and building a brighter future for the next generation.”
The Vinita home recipients will be selected from the Housing Authority’s waiting list of local New Home Construction applicants who do not own land. The monthly cost of the homes for the recipients has not yet been determined.
“I am so proud the tribe can provide quality housing to our citizens in the Vinita area,” Tribal Council Deputy Speaker Victoria Vazquez said. “The New Home Construction Program has been a major boon for our citizens throughout Craig County and all of Cherokee Nation. I cannot wait to see how this program continues to grow and help our citizens in the future.”
Vinita Mayor Ronnie Starks appreciated the tribe’s investment of new homes for tribal citizens in Vinita bringing infrastructure and dollars for the school system.
“We appreciate the Cherokee Nation making this large investment of 11 new homes in our city,” Starks said. “It's been a while since we've had a project of this size for residential homes. We have a wonderful working relationship with the tribe and will do everything we can to help support this project. We want to thank Chief Baker, Secretary Hoskin, Deputy Speaker Vasquez and other tribal leaders.”
The local school district may benefit from the new homes, as the public schools can receive up to $2,800 in federal impact aid for each Indian child in the school district living in the homes.
“These homes are a win-win for the town of Vinita,” Secretary of State Chuck Hoskin Jr. said. “We are not only providing a nice, quality-built home for Cherokee Nation citizens, but also providing much-needed additional revenue to our schools in the area during a time when state educational funding is in a major crisis.”
Since the announcement of the program in April 2012, the Cherokee Nation has built more than 500 homes and has approximately 300 more under construction throughout the tribe’s 14-county jurisdiction. The Vinita homes are slated for completion in fall 2017.
“The Housing Authority of the Cherokee Nation is very proud of this program and the positive change it is making in the lives of our citizens,” said Gary Cooper, executive director of the Housing Authority of the Cherokee Nation. “This program is so special because it helps our citizens achieve the American dream of homeownership and creates stability for families throughout the Cherokee Nation.”
The New Home Construction Program helps Cherokee families become new or first-time homeowners. Since it is not federally funded, the program has no income guidelines. Applicants must be a Cherokee Nation citizen, not currently own a home or currently own a home in substandard conditions, and can provide proof they have at least a $15,000 per year income.
In addition to the 11 homes to be constructed this year, the Housing Authority has previously built 11 other homes through the New Home Construction Program in Craig County. The Housing Authority also assists more than 100 families in Craig County through other housing programs, including Community Shield Insurance, Rental Assistance Program and College Housing Program.
“The New Home Construction Program is only increasing our tribe’s ability to meet the housing needs of our citizens in Craig County and the rest of the Cherokee Nation,” Chief of Staff Chuck Hoskin said.
In addition to the groundbreaking, the tribe had a fish fry for the event.
For more information on programs offered by the Housing Authority of the Cherokee Nation, visit www.hacn.org.