Cherokee Nation Housing Authority executive director urges Congress to reauthorize vital funding

March 19, 2015

TAHLEQUAH, Okla. — The Housing Authority of the Cherokee Nation’s executive director urged the U.S. Senate Committee on Indian Affairs to reauthorize funding for Native American housing. The funding has given Cherokee Nation the flexibility to restart a dormant housing program that has since built 120 homes for Cherokees since April 2012, with 220 homes currently under construction.

Representing the National American Indian Housing Council, Gary Cooper offered the group’s endorsement for the reauthorization of the Native American Housing Assistance and Self-Determination Act (NAHASDA). Cooper serves as the chairman of the NAIHC’s legislative committee and has worked for Cherokee Nation housing since 1999.

The NAIHC has 274 members representing more than 470 tribes and tribal housing entities. Congress first passed NAHASDA in 1996, which gave control over housing decisions to the tribes rather than the federal government.

The reauthorization of NAHASDA is very important for Indian Country. It would show that the Senate recognizes the sovereignty of tribes and the self-determination part of NAHASDA, said Cooper. There is no one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to tribal housing programs and funding; it’s different for every tribe. Before NAHASDA, HUD had a cookie-cutter approach towards housing, and this act changed that.

The Cherokee Nation offers a variety of housing programs based on each Cherokee family’s specific need. In 2012, the Cherokee Nation resumed new home construction after several years, allowing more families to obtain affordable housing quicker than with the previous program. In addition to building new homes, the Cherokee Nation offers rental assistance, housing rehabilitation, low-income rental housing, a mortgage assistance program, college housing assistance and senior housing.

Among the highlights of the NAHASDA reauthorization legislation, the new act would allow tribes and tribal housing authorities to administer the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing program under tribes’ NAHASDA rental assistance programs and help provide rental assistance to homeless veterans.

It’s important for the Cherokee Nation to have our talented staff fulfill these kinds of high-profile leadership roles in Indian Country, whether it’s in Indian housing, education, health care or finance, said Cherokee Nation Secretary of State Chuck Hoskin Jr. We have experts in their respective fields, and as the largest tribe in the nation, it benefits not just the Cherokee Nation, but all of Indian Country, when our program leaders like Gary Cooper advocate for the Cherokee Nation and all tribal governments at a national level.

For more information on the NAIHC, visit www.naihc.net.

For more information on the Housing Authority of the Cherokee Nation, visit www.hacn.org. www.hacn.org.