indianz.com your internet resource indianz.com on facebook indianz.com on twitter indianz.com on Google+
ph: 202 630 8439
Kill The Tobacco Master Settlement Agreement
Advertise on Indianz.Com
Home > News > Headlines
Print   Subscribe
Bush administration withholds $300M from Indian housing
Thursday, June 29, 2006

The Bush administration's decision to withhold up to $300 million in Indian housing funds came under fire on Wednesday.

Key members of Congress questioned why the Department of Housing and Urban Administration appeared to be punishing nearly every single federally recognized tribe by denying them access to their money. They suggested a legislative fix may be needed to prevent what tribal housing leaders predicted would be a total disaster.

"Whew," said Sen. John McCain (R-Arizona), the chairman of the Senate Indian Affairs Committee, after being told that $300 million, nearly half of the entire Indian housing block grant program, was being withheld from over 500 tribes.

"It seems to me that would lend some urgency to resolving this situation," he added.

Sen. Byron Dorgan (D-North Dakota), the vice chairman of the committee, agreed. He said HUD was going overboard by tying up the entire program over a lawsuit filed by just one tribe.

"I understand that you may have to recalculate [housing grant awards] but I assume you could create reserves that would allow you to do that and at least distribute some portion of the housing funds," he said.

Tribal housing leaders drove the same point home during the hearing and at a briefing following the hearing. Marty Shuravloff, the newly elected president of the National American Indian Housing Council, said some tribes may have to stop building homes altogether as a result of the administration's move.

"This potentially is going to affect every tribe in the country," said Shuravloff, a housing director from Alaska whose tribe won't be able to access $4 million in the coming year unless HUD changes course.

"They could potentially be looking at closing their doors," he said of other tribes across the country.

Orlando Cabrera, the assistant secretary in charge of public and Indian housing, did not dispute the gravity of the situation. "The impact is that there currently are no awards, no money going to any of the tribes," he told the committee.

But he said the lawsuit forced HUD to suspend the entire program because a federal judge invalidated a key housing regulation. In a May 25 decision, the judge said the way block grant funds are distributed under the Native American Housing and Self-Determination Act (NAHASDA) is unfair to tribes.

"This particular order throws the entire formula into question," said Cabrera of the ruling.

Not everyone buys that explanation. Susan M. Hammer, the executive director of housing for the Ute Tribe of Utah, accused the administration of trying to "pit tribes against each other" after losing the lawsuit.

"It's just seems unfair that they are restricting funding to all tribes," she said via telephone during NAIHC's briefing. "To punish us all for an adverse position ... it just doesn't seem right."

The lawsuit at issue was filed by the Assiniboine and Sioux Tribes on the Fort Peck Reservation in Montana. The tribal housing authority had received block grant funds in order to "provide affordable housing for low income families," the judge's decision sated.

HUD claimed that the Fort Peck Housing Authority received excess funds under the NAHASDA regulation. A 2003 letter stated that the tribe "received overfunding" in excess of $1 million over a five-year period.

After losing an administrative challenge within HUD, the tribes went to court. U.S. District Judge Richard Matsch examined NAHASDA and the HUD regulation, and found that the regulation has a "perverse effect" on tribes seeking to increase Native American homeownership rates.

"The housing needs of people living on an Indian reservation are not reasonably determined by a formula" in the regulation, he wrote in the 19-page decision.

"As a result, tribes with large numbers of homeownership units suffer decreases in their share of the annual apportionment, and tribes with a large percentage of rental units receive a greater share each year," he wrote in describing the funding inequity.

Cabrera said HUD is trying to find a way to resolve the situation. The Department of Justice has asked for a stay but he said the judge isn't likely to grant it. The case could conceivably go to the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals.

HUD officials were meeting with Senate staff to further discuss the situation. McCain said he hoped a solution could be reached before the case goes any further.

"Probably's not good enough," he said after Cabrera indicated Congress might not need to step in.

Relevant Documents:
Cabrera Letter Suspending Funds | Court Decision in Ft. Peck Case

Hearing Info:
OVERSIGHT HEARING on Native American Housing Programs (Wednesday, June 28, 2006)

Relevant Links:
Fort Peck Tribes - http://www.fortpecktribes.org
Office of Public and Indian Housing, HUD - http://www.hud.gov/offices/pih
National American Indian Housing Council - http://naihc.net
Senate Indian Affairs Committee - http://indian.senate.gov

Related Stories:
Indian Affairs Committee hearing on housing (6/28)
Senate Indian Affairs Committee hearing (06/26)
Indian home loan program expands to more states (06/20)
Upcoming Senate Indian Affairs Committee hearings (06/12)
Indian housing training funds slated for cut (3/2)
Special Interests: Lobbying for Indian housing (3/2)
Program to help urban Indians become homeowners (02/27)
Upcoming Senate Indian Affairs Committee hearings (09/12)
Former HUD official Liu drops lobbying effort (09/01)
HUD expands home loan program in Oregon (08/08)
Aloha! Michael Liu leaving HUD for private sector (05/05)
Senators question Bush administration's budget cuts (02/17)
Native veterans question Bush administration budget (02/17)
Official cites 'tight' budget for Indian housing (2/9)
Indian housing funds see no major increase (11/24)
Congress restores Bush's cuts to Indian programs (11/22)
Bush says housing program he's cutting is 'working' (08/12)
Tribes challenge policy affecting federal housing funds (05/04)
Indian housing funds face cuts in Bush budget (04/14)
Tribes tackle budget woes under Bush administration (4/13)
Housing campaign seeks to build 100,000 homes (02/27)
Senate panel shares criticism of Bush budget (02/12)
Tribal leaders pressing Congress on funding (02/11)
Native American Bank offers new mortgage program (01/21)
Indians fight discrimination when renting homes (11/21)
Indian housing funds face more scrutiny (3/4)
Bush budget restricts spending on Indian Country (02/10)
Senate clears new funds for Indian programs (01/24)
Housing scarce for thousands of Indian families (01/22)
Indian housing bill signed into law (11/15)
A busy year for Congress on Indian affairs (10/22)
Senate renews Indian housing law (10/8)
Court rules tribes immune from discrimination law (8/14)
Bush names Liu to Indian housing post (6/22)
Native Corp. to appeal housing denial (6/4)
Alaska Native housing plan rejected (5/29)
Audit: Alaska Native dorm improperly approved (4/17)
HUD Budget: No big benefit for Indian Country (4/12)
Martinez to clean HUD house (2/21)

Copyright 2000-2006 Indianz.Com
More headlines...
Stay Connected:

Local Links:
Federal Register | Indian Gaming | Jobs & Notices | In The Hoop | Message Board
Latest News:
Tim Giago: Deaths of Native men in Rapid City remain unsolved (10/20)
Charles 'Chuck' Trimble: Let Crazy Horse's spirit rest in peace (10/20)
Mark Trahant: Races come down to turnout in three key states (10/20)
Native Sun News: Billy Mills wows youth at Black Hills Powwow (10/20)
Cedric Sunray: Tribes abandon traditional aspects of inclusion (10/20)
Dustina Gill: Vote for Rick Weiland to protect our sacred waters (10/20)
Ousted Project Runway contestant reaffirms Puyallup heritage (10/20)
Bryan Brewer: Park helps Oglala Sioux Tribe protect its culture (10/20)
Robert Porter: Don't let tribal issues fall prey to partisan politics (10/20)
Gabe Galanda: Abramoff's playbook still used in Indian Country (10/20)
Jay Daniels: Let BIA make changes to rights-of-way regulation (10/20)
Mike McBride: Sovereign goodwill at a low in tribal tax dispute (10/20)
Chukchansi Tribe sends layoff notices to most casino workers (10/20)
Rivals raise nearly $16M to block North Fork Rancheria casino (10/20)
Judge won't let BIA proceed with compact for Pojoaque Pueblo (10/20)
Candidates discuss Menominee Nation's off-reservation casino (10/20)
Opinion: Suckers help Chumash Tribe finance casino expansion (10/20)
Native Sun News: Oglala Sioux Tribe buckles to pressure on park (10/17)
Mark Trahant: Native vote could tip races in Idaho and Colorado (10/17)
Crystal Willcuts: Remembering the beauty that was my mother (10/17)
Blackfeet actress Misty Upham found dead after going missing (10/17)
Citizen Potawatomi Nation sues city over detachment petition (10/17)
Opinion: Politicians relying on Native voters in a close election (10/17)
Poarch Creeks donate another $500K to Democratic candidate (10/17)
Montana to transfer bison from Yellowstone to Fort Peck Tribes (10/17)
Opinion: Listen to Native Americans who oppose racist mascots (10/17)
Charges possible in dispute at Chukchansi Tribe's closed casino (10/17)
Oglala Sioux Tribe might open third casino under new compact (10/17)
Women dominate workforce at Northern Arapaho Tribe's casino (10/17)
Ho-Chunk Nation to shut down poker room after losing lawsuit (10/17)
Blog: What to know about Prop 48 and off-reservation gaming (10/17)
Native Sun News: Native vote plays key role in Senate matchup (10/16)
Dean Chavers: Calling out Ward Churchill and other wannabes (10/16)
Glenn Morris: A sorry spectacle at UN indigenous peoples meet (10/16)
Crosscut to present special award to late activist Billy Frank Jr. (10/16)
Editorial: Our schools can learn from success at tribal colleges (10/16)
Column: Language police want FCC to bar R-word on airwaves (10/16)
Navajo lawyer named chair of Washington gaming commission (10/16)
Judge won't allow factions of Chukchansi Tribe to reopen casino (10/16)
Alabama governor shifts stance on compact for Poarch Creeks (10/16)
more headlines...

Home | Arts & Entertainment | Business | Canada | Cobell Lawsuit | Education | Environment | Federal Recognition | Federal Register | Forum | Health | Humor | Indian Gaming | Indian Trust | Jack Abramoff Scandal | Jobs & Notices | Law | National | News | Opinion | Politics | Sports | Technology | World

Indianz.Com Terms of Service | Indianz.Com Privacy Policy
About Indianz.Com | Advertise on Indianz.Com

Indianz.Com is a product of Noble Savage Media, LLC and Ho-Chunk, Inc.