Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Ben Carson. Photo: HUD

Trump administration gets chance to explain views on tribal housing

The Trump administration is getting a chance to explain its views on tribal housing programs, a month after the president himself questioned their legality.

A senior official from the Department of Housing and Urban Development is scheduled to testify on S.1275, the Building Useful Initiatives for Indian Land Development Act, on Tuesday afternoon. The bill is significant because it reauthorizes two programs that President Donald Trump incorrectly said were based on "race."

"There's treaties in place -- they're contracts," Chairman Darrell Seki of the Red Lake Nation said at a hearing on funding needs last month. "They should be abided by."

The bill, also known as the BUILD Act, reauthorizes the Indian Housing Block Grant Program and the Indian Loan Guarantee Program, popularly known as Section 184. Both face funding cuts in Trump's fiscal year 2018 budget.

“For many individuals and families throughout Indian Country, housing options are often limited, inadequate or unsafe,” Sen. John Hoeven (R-North Dakota), the chairman of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, said when he introduced the BUILD Act last month. “This bill will provide tribes with the flexibility and resources to efficiently develop housing projects and meet critical, increasing housing needs in their communities.”

The hearing on Hoeven's bill takes place immediately following a business meeting at 2:30pm in Room 628 of the Senate Dirksen Office Building. A total of three bills are on the agenda, including one for veterans housing and another to reform the Indian health care system.

The witness list for the two housing bills follows:
Ms. Heidi Frechette
Deputy Assistant Secretary
Office of Native American Programs, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, Washington, DC

Dr. Keith Harris
Director of Clinical Operations, Homeless Programs Office
U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, Washington, DC

The Honorable Liana Onnen
Area Vice President, Southern Plains Region
National Congress of American Indians, Washington, DC

Mr. Mark Charlie
AVCP Regional Housing Authority, Bethel, AK

Ms. Sami Jo Difuntorum
National American Indian Housing Council, Washington, DC

Senate Committee on Indian Affairs Notice:
Legislative Hearing to Receive Testimony on the Following bills: S. 1250, S. 1275

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