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Domenici makes a push for Indian housing funds

The following is a press release from Sen. Pete Domenici (R-N.M..

WASHINGTON, D.C., March 6 - U.S. Senator Pete Domenici today asked Housing and Urban Development Secretary Mel Martinez whether there is enough cost-benefit advantage for Congress to increase funding for a federal program specifically tailored to meet the housing needs of American Indian tribes.

Domenici today submitted the inquiry to Martinez, who today appeared before the Senate Veterans’ Affairs, Housing and Urban Development, and Independent Agencies Appropriations Subcommittee to testify on the recommended FY2004 HUD budget request.

Specifically, Domenici asked whether providing $700 million for the HUD Native American Housing Assistance and Self-Determination Act (NAHASDA) program is enough to begin offsetting a growing housing backlog on the reservations. NAHASDA funding has remained steady at almost $650 million annually for a number of years.

"NAHASDA has been a powerful tool in the long fight to improve housing on Indian reservations. But I think the tool has been dulled of late. Many still wait for adequate housing," Domenici said. "This HUD program has helped tribes consolidate federal housing assistance in a way that allows them to use block grants to bring modern housing to their people. But I believe it is time we take a look at whether funding for the program, which is high, is not keeping up with inflation or demand."

In 2002, 19 New Mexico tribes received more than $25 million under NAHASDA. The amount each receives is determined by population, tribal income and the number of existing reservation houses.

Domenici, who last year cosponsored legislation to reauthorize this program created in 1986, serves on the VA-HUD Appropriations Subcommittee and is a member of the Senate Indian Affairs Committee. NAHASDA removes Indian housing from the regulations of public housing, which fall under the guidelines of the 1937 Housing Act, and gives tribes more leeway to develop "culturally-appropriate" housing for tribal members.

The law also gives tribes the opportunity to use different sources of financing to meet housing needs in their communities. It is estimated that there is a need for at least $1.2 billion for housing throughout Indian Country.

Relevant Links:
Sen. Pete Domenici - http://domenici.senate.gov
NAHASDA, US Dept of Housing and Urban Development - http://www-domino.hud.gov/ihp/newhome.nsf
National Indian Housing Council - http://naihc.indian.com

Related Stories:
Unspent Indian housing funds debated (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)

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