SALLISAW, Okla. — The Cherokee Nation broke ground Wednesday on a 16-acre housing addition in Sallisaw that is being built for Cherokee families.
The new neighborhood will be named the ᏙᏧᏩ ᏏᏆᏂᏓ ᏓᏓᏁᎸᎢ or Redbird Smith Estates. The project will initially include 12 homes and eventually build eight duplexes to follow. The property has a total of 33 lots for future expansion as needs increase.
“In 2019, when Deputy Chief Warner and I signed the Housing, Jobs and Sustainable Communities Act, we knew how much of a need affordable Cherokee housing was,” Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. said. “Though we were able to help countless Cherokees with homes and other housing needs when we first signed the act, we knew that we needed to continue to do more. That’s why in 2022 we expanded the act with an additional $120 million. This expansion not only allows us to build this addition in Sallisaw, but will help build countless homes for Cherokees in need across our reservation. I’m extremely proud of the work the Housing Authority of the Cherokee Nation has done and am excited for more work to come.”
The 12 new Sallisaw homes being built are part of the Housing Authority of the Cherokee Nation’s New Construction Homeownership Program. The homes will be utilitzed by Cherokee families who applied and were on the waiting list for housing but do not own land.
The Cherokee Nation and HACN also broke ground in February on a similar project with 24 homes and room to build more on a 23-acre tract of land in Tahlequah. Earlier this month, they also broke ground on a 12-acre housing addition in Muskogee with 12 homes, on a total of 30 lots for expansion.
“It’s always a great day when we can celebrate Cherokee families getting new homes,” Cherokee Nation Deputy Chief Bryan Warner said. “I’m especially proud of this new housing addition that will be going right here in my hometown. These homes will be such a blessing to those that live here and will bring safety and comfort for them. It’s such a blessing to be here and witness the way these families’ lives will change once it’s complete.”
Each home in the new addition will each include three bedrooms, two baths and a two-car garage. The homes will range from 1,745 square feet to 1,844 square feet with low-cost maintenance features and brick siding. Each home will also include a closet constructed of hardened walls to serve as a storm shelter. Plans for the duplexes will follow shortly, as they are in the design phase.
“Affordable and safe housing is needed in Sallisaw and I’m so excited these 12 homes are coming to my community,” Council of the Cherokee Nation for District 6, Daryl Legg said. “These homes will be such an enhancement for the Cherokee population in Sallisaw. I’m excited for everyone who will get to live in these new homes once they’re complete.”
The Housing Authority of the Cherokee Nation’s New Construction Homeownership Program is a lease-to-own program created to provide a path to homeownership for eligible Cherokee citizens.
Future projects are also planned for Adair, Delaware, Mayes, Nowata, Rogers, Sequoyah, Tulsa and Washington Counties.
As part of the reauthorized Housing, Jobs and Sustainable Communities Act signed into law in 2022, Cherokee Nation is dedicating a total of $60 million for constructing new homes, shortening wait times for applicants to the tribe’s New Construction Homeownership Program. Another $30 million is dedicated to low-income housing rehabilitation or home replacement and low-income emergency housing rehab, primarily for elders and citizens with disabilities.
In addition to new housing additions planned under HJSCA, Cherokee Nation housing programs have repaired or replaced over 4,000 homes for Cherokee citizens since 2019.
Also included in the funding is $4 million for new, low-income housing rental units, $4 million for building or expanding villages for fluent Cherokee speakers, $10 million for crisis shelters for homeless citizens or victims of domestic violence, $7 million to continue sustainability grants for Cherokee community organizations and buildings and $5 million for land acquisition and development for housing projects.