Tester: state of Native American housing is in crisis

Indian Affairs Vice Chairman highlights the urgency to reauthorize NAHASDA

(U.S. SENATE)-Vice Chairman of the Senate Indian Affairs Committee Jon Tester today described the state of Native American housing as a “crisis” and pushed for increased resources for Indian housing programs, including improving and reauthorizing the Native American Housing Assistance and Self-Determination Act (NAHASDA).

During a committee hearing, Tester said lack of affordable housing is a critical issue that significantly impacts the daily lives of Native Americans. Tester added that reauthorizing NAHASDA will improve tribal self-determination and boost opportunities for Native American families.

“Nothing impacts lives in Indian Country more than the lack of housing,” Tester said. “Investing in safe, quality housing options will improve the health and safety of families. We need to ensure that every resource possible is available to improve housing conditions in Native American communities.”

NAHASDA, originally enacted in 1996, was reauthorized in 2002 and 2008 but is now due to be reauthorized. With a lack of authorization, the uncertainty in funding is a major concern for Indian Country.

Through NAHASDA, the Department of Housing and Urban Development grants funds to tribes and tribal housing authorities to construct, acquire, or modernize housing for low income families. These funds represent the main source of housing assistance in Indian Country.

Last Congress Tester cosponsored legislation to reauthorize NAHASDA and spearheaded efforts to make HUD-VASH funds, which provide housing assistance to veterans, available for Native Americans living on tribal lands.