Native American Housing: Additional Actions Needed to Better Support Tribal Efforts

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Indian tribes and tribally designated housing entities face both external and internal challenges in carrying out affordable housing activities under the Indian Housing Block Grant (IHBG) program, which was authorized by the Native American Housing Assistance and Self-Determination Act of 1996 (NAHASDA). The most commonly identified external challenges included the often remote location of tribal lands and lack of infrastructure such as running water and sewer systems. Meeting these challenges can significantly increase development costs. For example, one Arizona tribe saw its costs double because materials had to be brought in by helicopter. Tribes also identified differing federal agency requirements, particularly for environmental reviews, as a challenge that delayed projects and increased costs when IHBG and other funds were combined. Further, tribes were concerned that recent changes in federally authorized training and technical assistance could reduce their quality and frequency, in part because of the reduced role of a longstanding provider. The most commonly identified internal challenges were recipients' limited administrative capacity, conflicts within tribes that impact housing priorities and planning, and cultural preferences for certain types of housing. The Navajo Nation's housing entity, the largest IHBG recipient, has experienced all of these challenges and had a backlog of nearly $500 million in unspent IHBG funds, which it has begun to address. Read the full report here.