indianz.com your internet resource indianz.com on facebook indianz.com on twitter indianz.com on Google+
ph: 202 630 8439
Jobs at the Bureau of Indian Education
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:
Wrapup from National Congress of American Indians DC meeting (2/27)
Native Sun News: Rapid City leader calls for tax on alcohol sales (2/27)
Mark Trahant: Beautiful trend emerges with power of Native vote (2/27)
Ivan Star: Lakota traditional history tells the true untold stories (2/27)
Audio: House Appropriations Committee hearing on BIA budget (2/27)
Senate Indian Affairs Committee to hold hearing on irrigation bill (2/27)
National Indian Gaming Commission choice gets another hearing (2/27)
Kevin Abourezk: Omaha language advocate passes on at age 58 (2/27)
Gyasi Ross: Yawna Allen shares her Native and African ancestry (2/27)
Frank Hopper: Alaska Native Brotherhood was about resistance (2/27)
Stanley Heller: Don't forget the Sand Creek Massacre in Colorado (2/27)
Cherokee Nation chief faces at least four challengers in election (2/27)
BIA and DOJ seek to mediate Cayuga Nation leadership dispute (2/27)
Non-Indians guilty for hunting incidents on Montana reservation (2/27)
Man from Te-Moak Tribe pleads guilty to voluntary manslaughter (2/27)
Administrator for Alaska tribe cuts her position out of the budget (2/27)
Opinion: Find common ground on Indian mascots in Connecticut (2/27)
Hannahville Indian Community starts $8M casino expansion work (2/27)
Wilton Rancheria still waiting for BIA movement on casino project (2/27)
Lytton Band paid $4.6M to use land as parking for Class II facility (2/27)
Opinion: Menominee Nation might turn to tokers instead of poker (2/27)
Opinion: Poarch Creeks come with slot machines and marijuana (2/27)
Updates from National Congress of American Indians meet in DC (2/26)
Native Sun News: Rosebud Sioux Tribe leader sidelined by council (2/26)
James Giago Davies: Native activism must embrace all relations (2/26)
Donna Ennis: Obama budget supports tribal self-determination (2/26)
Rich Winter: Let's keep Lakota Nation Invitational in Rapid City (2/26)
Oglala Sioux Tribe wants Lakota Nation Invitational out of Rapid (2/26)
Former Sisseton Wahpeton chairman joins marijuana company (2/26)
Hoopa Valley Tribe places marijuana referendum on April ballot (2/26)
Blog: Firm saves billions by exploiting Native 'loophole' at FCC (2/26)
Klamath Tribes aid investigation into stolen artifacts in Oregon (2/26)
Alaska Native community still waiting on funding for relocation (2/26)
Alaska Native lawmaker in hospital after emergency at capitol (2/26)
Elise Patkotak: Alaska must acknowledge high rate of violence (2/26)
Mishewal Wappo Tribe waits for decision in recognition lawsuit (2/26)
Muscogee Nation seeks 5000 workers for big casino expansion (2/26)
Little River Band expects wait for $180M off-reservation casino (2/26)
Northern Arapaho Tribe plans to open casino food court in May (2/26)
Cherokee Nation promotes citizen to manager of $80M casino (2/26)
Tribes share nearly $16M in casino revenues with New Mexico (2/26)
Connecticut tribes face threat from casinos in Massachusetts (2/26)
Updates from National Congress of American Indians meeting (2/25)
Native Sun News: Artist Del Iron Cloud wins top award at show (2/25)
Witness List: Senate Indian Affairs Committee budget hearing (2/25)
Steve Russell: Cherokees learned discrimination from colonists (2/25)
Mary Pember: Tlingit masks appraised on 'Antiques Roadshow' (2/25)
Julianne Jennings: Keep talking about race in American history (2/25)
Bill to create day to honor late Elouise Cobell stalls in Montana (2/25)
Washington tribes head to trial in dispute over fishing grounds (2/25)
Mobile dental clinic takes service to Navajo Nation communities (2/25)
Shingle Springs Band gun range draws questions from neighbors (2/25)
NCPR: St. Regis Mohawk Tribe continues land claim negotiations (2/25)
Opinion: Oklahoma attempts to rewrite role of Whites in history (2/25)
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.