STILWELL, Okla. — The Cherokee Nation broke ground Monday on a five-acre housing addition in Stilwell that is being built for Cherokee families. The project will include 15 homes along with a park.
The new neighborhood will be named the ᏗᎬᎩᏍᎩ ᏗᏁᏍᎨᏓ, or Crittenden Addition, in honor of Cherokee Nation Secretary of Veterans Affairs S. Joe Crittenden, who previously served on the Council of the Cherokee Nation, as Deputy Chief of the Cherokee Nation, and briefly as Principal Chief of the Cherokee Nation. Secretary Crittenden, of Adair County, is also a U.S. Navy veteran.
“I’m extremely proud to say that we have broken ground on four housing additions throughout the Cherokee Nation Reservation already this year,” Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. said. “This is the kind of progress that Deputy Warner and I had envisioned when we signed the Housing, Jobs and Sustainable Communities Act back in 2019. Since then, with the support of the Council of the Cherokee Nation, we expanded the act with an additional $120 million in 2022, which really helped jumpstart the building of much-needed Cherokee homes and housing needs. This new addition in Stilwell will be a great asset to the town for many years to come, and it is so very fitting that it is named in honor of Secretary Crittenden.”
The 15 new Stilwell homes being built are part of the Housing Authority of the Cherokee Nation’s New Construction Homeownership Program. The homes will be utilized 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. In April, the tribe broke ground on a 12-acre housing addition in Muskogee with 12 homes, on a total of 30 lots for expansion, as well as a 16-acre housing addition in Sallisaw with 12 homes and eight duplexes to follow.
“When we break ground on new housing additions, those days are always some of the best days on the Cherokee Nation Reservation,” Deputy Chief Bryan Warner said. “These 15 homes in Stilwell will bring Cherokee families a warm, safe place where they can put roots down and flourish. What a blessing it will be for families to enjoy these nice new homes for generations to come.”
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.
“It’s a great day when we can say Cherokee Nation is really normalizing growth, expansion, and services for our people. That day is now in Adair County and all across our great Nation,” District 8 Councilor Shawn Crittenden said.
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 Delaware, Mayes, Nowata, Rogers, Sequoyah, Tulsa and Washington counties.
“Any day is a tremendous day to celebrate more housing for our people. We have great leaders across our tribe, whether it be with our administration, Council, Housing Authority of the Cherokee Nation and Cherokee Nation Businesses, that seek out opportunities to strengthen our tribe,” said District 7 Councilor Joshua Sam. “We know housing is vital to our people and I believe the efforts of all these great folks are working each and every day to serve our people. I’m excited to see these new homes for our community, and especially proud to see the addition and street named after a great man of our people, Secretary of Veterans Affairs S. Joe Crittenden.”
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.