TAHLEQUAH, Okla. — The Cherokee Nation is participating in the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Section 184 Skilled Workers Demonstration Program, which will allow for the construction of multiple rental dwelling units in Cherokee communities that will be provided to skilled workers in multiple professional fields.
The HUD program is a loan program that aids organizations in recruiting skilled workers for hard-to-fill or hard-to-recruit positions. The Cherokee Nation, Housing Authority of the Cherokee Nation, and Cherokee Nation Businesses have worked together to identify those positions in fields such a law enforcement, healthcare, education, contracting, housing and the culinary arts.
The Cherokee Nation is one of the first tribes to be approved for the HUD program.
“This demonstration program has the opportunity to make a big impact on our Cherokee communities that need assistance in recruiting skilled and essential workers,” Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. said. “The Cherokee Nation has always prioritized the housing needs for our Cherokee communities, and this program is just another example of how we’re providing better resources to accommodate those needs.”
As defined by the Housing Authority of the Cherokee Nation’s HUD Section 184 Skilled Workers Demonstration Program Policy, a skilled worker has acquired mastery or training in a particular occupation, craft or trade. Skilled workers have special skills, knowledge or ability that applies to their work, and they have obtained their knowledge by attending college or vocational school, through specialized training, or through on-the-job experience.
Such skilled workers include:
• Law enforcement workers – including local, state, and tribal officers.
• Health care workers – doctors, nurses, medical technicians, emergency responders, mental health counselors and medical residents.
• Teachers – including head start, preschool, elementary school, middle school, high school, university or technical school instructors, and Cherokee language instructors.
• Plumbers, electricians, and HVAC technicians – including licensed apprentices, journeymen, and contractors.
• Carpenters, painters, bricklayers, roofers, etc. – along with other trades experienced and directly employed in the construction of affordable housing.
• Cooks – employed in tribal facilities or at local community elder nutrition sites.
The housing made available by this program will be provided to Cherokee citizen employees, citizens of other tribal nations or non-Indians. At least one member of the renter’s household must be employed as a skilled worker at the time of initial leasing of the property and must sign the lease.
The Cherokee Nation will secure Section 184 funding in order to construct the additional housing units and meet the needs of several of the most critical employment recruitment and retention efforts.
The demonstration program will first roll out in Ochelata, where earlier this year there were more than 30 hard-to-fill positions identified with nearly 15 that have been unfilled for some time. If successful, the program will expand to other locations to ease the housing demands in multiple communities and provide better resources to the Human Resources teams building the Cherokee Nation’s workforce.
The new HUD funding comes on the heels of the tribe’s own historic Housing, Jobs and Sustainable Communities Act, which is injecting $120 million in housing rehab, new home construction and other housing-related programs, the largest such investment in the tribe’s history.
For more information, visit the Housing Authority of the Cherokee Nation’s website at https://www.hacn.org or call 918-456-5482.