Spending bill may cap Navajo housing dollars

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Navajo Housing Authority
Contact: Christian Bigwater, Public Relations Coordinator
Navajo Housing Authority
Cell: (928) 221-4205

Contact: Jared King, Communications Director
Navajo Nation Washington Office
Cell: (202) 200-0625

For Immediate Release

Spending bill may cap Navajo housing dollars
Navajo leadership and NHA in opposition to hurtful language

WINDOW ROCK, Ariz. – On June 25, the full Senate Appropriations Committee marked up the fiscal 2016 Transportation, Housing and Urban Development (THUD) funding bill. The bill includes language that would impact the Navajo Nation’s annual allocation of Indian Housing Block Grant (IHBG) funds.

“The fiscal 2016 THUD draft funding bill proposes to cap any recipient’s annual allocation to only 10 percent of the overall amount allocated to the Indian Housing Block Grant. Congress has appropriated around $650 million to the overall IHBG account—therefore, the language would cut Navajo’s funding by approximately $20 million,” said Jackson Brossy, executive director of the Navajo Nation Washington Office.

“Due to its substantial on-reservation population and vast need for housing, the Navajo Nation is the largest IHBG recipient. If this cap language remains in the final funding bill from Congress, Navajo could lose nearly $15 to 25 million. The Navajo Nation would be the only tribe that would be impacted by this language,” said Brossy.

As stipulated in Section 302 of the Native American Housing Assistance and Self-Determination Act (NAHASDA), the funding formula for distributing IHBG funds is to be developed and negotiated by tribes and the secretary of HUD. A significant portion of the IHBG funds received by the Navajo Nation is based upon the needs portion of that formula.

“This proposed appropriations language is unacceptable because it violates the core purpose of NAHASDA - self-determination, and is a serious attempt to cut funding to our Nation,” said Navajo President Russell Begaye. “NAHASDA was drafted and created by tribes—when it came to developing the funding formula, the tribes were very clear to Congress that any changes to the formula should be negotiated and made by the tribes. This attempt to unilaterally change the funding formula through appropriations language disregards the spirit of tribal self-determination which is the fundamental basis of NAHASDA.”

“The Navajo Housing Authority strongly opposes language included in the fiscal 2016 Senate Transportation, Housing and Urban Development funding bill,” said Navajo Housing Authority (NHA) chief executive officer, Aneva J. Yazzie.

“The inclusion of this language is an unprecedented intrusion upon the self-determination component of NAHASDA. Additionally, the use of an appropriation bill as the vehicle came as a complete surprise. Changes of this magnitude should be handled in the proper committees of jurisdiction, Senate Committee on Indian Affairs and the Senate Banking Committee, where oversight hearings could be held and testimony could be heard on whether this change is warranted. The Appropriators have not provided any reasons why they are taking this stance. It has no basis for inclusion, especially when Navajo has exhibited, through statistical data, its extreme unmet housing need, which equates to approximately $9 billion. If this is an attempt to address NHA’s unspent funds, the tribes and HUD have already done this through the Negotiated Rule Making Committee. NHA has spent $415 million since October 1, 2011 and is on track to meet its fiscal 2015 spending goal of $155 million. NHA is one of the largest housing authorities in the United States—is this same attempt to cap funding being made against the City of Atlanta or the City of Boston?”

In October 1, 2012 the NHA set out a detailed five-year expenditure plan to address the accumulation of past-undisbursed IHBG funds. According to the plan, the NHA will spend down all past funds by the end of fiscal 2017.

The NHA is the Tribally Designated Housing Entity for the Navajo Nation. NHA is the largest Indian housing authority, and is nearly the eighth largest public housing authority in the United States. NHA is comparable in size to the public housing agency for the city of Atlanta.

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Navajo leadership and NHA in opposition to hurtful language
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