National | Politics

Chairman of Lumbee Tribe concerned about use of HUD funding

Harvey Godwin, right, on the campaign trail for the chairmanship of the Lumbee Tribe of North Carolina. Photo from Facebook

A trip to an Indian housing convention is stirring controversy among leaders of the Lumbee Tribe of North Carolina.

Some council members want to go to the Amerind / National American Indian Housing Council meeting in Hawaii next month. They plan to use Department of Housing and Urban Development funds to get there, The Robesonian reported.

But Chairman Harvey Goodwin is worried that the trip won't help the tribe pay the $264,985 it owes HUD for excessive travel and other unallowable expenses. He also wants to make sure any leaders who end up attending the conference provide a report to the council after they return.

“This is about transparency,” Godwin told The Robesonian. “HUD requires that a report be made to the full council as a means of training for others.”

In 2014, HUD determined that the tribe misspent $445,000 Indian Housing Block Grant funds. According to news reports from the time, the bulk of the money was spent on stipends for council members. The stipends were intended to cover travel expenses.

The tribe accepted a cut in its IHBG funds to address the oversight but still owes $264,985, The Robesonian reported. Godwin, who took office in January, is trying to negotiate a reduction in the amount.

Godwin acknowledges that he doesn't have the authority to stop anyone from going to the conference. He said it will cost the tribe about $4,000 per person although Bill James Brewington, the speaker of the Lumbee council, said it would cost about $3,000 per person. Brewington said seven council members have expressed interest in attending.

Get the Story:
Hawaii trip back on for Tribal Council (The Robesonian 4/22)
Tribe won’t send group to Hawaii (The Robesonian 4/3)
Tribe must return HUDs $265,000 (The Robesonian 3/20)

Related Stories:
Voters of Lumbee Tribe pick newcomer Harvey Godwin as chair (11/20)
Editorial: Leaders of Lumbee Tribe stole federal housing money (06/03)
Lumbee Tribe to appeal findings of misuse of federal HUD funds (5/28)
Lumbee Tribe accepts cut in HUD funds to repay misspent funds (06/26)
Lumbee Tribe must repay nearly $445K in Indian housing funds (6/18)