Senators John Hoeven (R-ND), Chairman of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, and Tom Udall (D-NM), Vice Chairman of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, today introduced bipartisan legislation to reauthorize the Native American Housing Assistance and Self Determination Act of 1996 (NAHASDA) and provide needed housing improvements for native communities.
“The bipartisan legislation we introduced will reauthorize an expired native housing law and provide reforms to over regulated and burdened housing programs,” said Hoeven. By advancing this legislation, tribal communities will have increased access to affordable housing and greater control over the development of these projects, allowing for decisions to be made by those who best understand the needs of their people.”
“Native communities need secure federal funding to build safe and reliable housing and infrastructure. As the primary source of funding for housing needs and development for Native communities, NAHASDA is critically important for planning and development in these communities, yet it has remained unauthorized since 2013. The COVID-19 pandemic has only amplified housing needs as Native communities around the country continue to fight to keep the pandemic at bay, and Tribes need financial certainty now more than ever,” said Udall. “I am proud to join Chairman Hoeven to introduce legislation to reauthorize the NAHASDA for 10 years, providing much-needed certainty for the program, while also making improvements to existing housing programs in the law.”
“The National American Indian Housing Council thanks Senators Hoeven and Udall for introducing this bipartisan NAHASDA reauthorization. The Committee’s leadership on this issue comes at a welcome time as the bill would provide certainty for tribal housing programs just as they are stretched thin from responding to COVID-19 in tribal communities. This bill would help native communities by including vital improvements to NAHASDA, 10-year authorizations for tribal housing programs, and by providing tribes greater eligibility to other federal housing programs. NAIHC looks forward to working with the sponsors and all members of Congress to get NAHASDA reauthorized this year,” said Gary Cooper, Chairman of Board of Directors, National American Indian Housing Council
Specifically, the legislation will improve housing for tribal communities by:
- Consolidating the number of environmental reviews that a tribal housing project must undergo in order to begin construction;
- Empowering Indian Tribes to develop their own rental housing laws, including waivers of certain HUD rental housing requirements and lease termination procedures if a valid tribal ordinance is in place;
- Strengthening the role of the HUD Office of Native American Programs by creating an Assistant Secretary of Indian Housing at the Department;
- Authorizing the Tribal HUD VASH program to provide Native homeless veterans with housing and health care services; and
- Authorizing the Tribal Drug Elimination Program to provide grant funding to curb drug use and sales in reservation housing, additional police resources, housing counseling, and community gathering events.
The Native American Housing Assistance and Self Determination Act (NAHASDA) of 1996 reorganized how the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s housing assistance is provided to Indian Tribes by eliminating several separate programs and replacing them with the Indian Housing Block Grant (IHBG), a formula-based grant program, and the Title VI Loan Guarantee, which provides financing guarantees to Indian Tribes for private market loans in order to develop affordable housing. In 2002 and 2008, NAHASDA was reauthorized for a period of five years. Authorization for NAHASDA expired in 2013, but Congress continues to fund the programs annually through the appropriations process.