One of the greatest challenges facing Tribal leaders today is the tremendous shortage of housing in Native communities across the country. Even with the success of gaming and other tribally-owned businesses in the last 40 years, the unfortunate reality is that many Tribes still face some of the worst housing and living conditions in the United States.
Dilapidated conditions exacerbated by exposure to environmental hazards like mold, lead and radon have created an ongoing crisis in our communities. Moreover, statistics show that 16 percent of Tribal households are overcrowded, compared to 2.2 percent of the general population. Experts estimate that an additional 200,000 housing units are needed in Indian Country, though many tribes lack the resources to construct new homes.
While Tribal housing needs are glaring in nature, federal resources to address this issue continue to diminish. The federal funding source for Indian housing, HUD’s Indian Housing Block Grant Program (IHBG), was first funded in 1998 at a level of $650 million, which has remained static for nearly two decades.
In FY 2018, funding for housing was also $650 million while construction costs have skyrocketed. To put this into context, had the federal commitment to Indian Housing simply kept up with the inflation rate, the IHBG Program would have been funded at $993 million FY18—almost 50 percent higher than it is now.
There is, however, an important new funding opportunity that all Tribal leaders should consider.
A special $100 million Indian Housing Block Grant (IHBG) Notice of Funding Availability (NOFA) is scheduled to be published in early calendar year 2019. This competitive NOFA will provide Tribes and TDHES with an infusion of capital for new housing construction and rehabilitation.
Most Tribes should be eligible for at least a $1 million in grant funding under this initiative. This is a rare funding opportunity for Indian housing that is not expected to be replicated in the foreseeable future.
Blue Stone Strategy Group can provide important assistance to your Tribe in preparing for this upcoming IHBG NOFA. Our housing team is highly experienced in the Indian housing field with extensive Tribal and Federal experience in this critical area. In order to assist Tribes and TDHEs in addressing their housing needs, Blue Stone offers a variety of services that address administrative and planning issues related to the preparation for the IHBG NOFA.
Blue Stone, for example, could evaluate the effectiveness of your existing housing programs. This will help to insure that your Tribe has the administrative capacity to implement a major housing development project.
We can also conduct a housing assessment to determine your current needs in regards to types of housing (i.e. single-family, multi-family, supportive), eligibility for assisted housing and location preferences. In addition, Blue Stone can identify additional financial resources that could assist your efforts in developing housing for your Tribe.
Blue Stone Strategy Group is deeply committed to increasing housing opportunities in Indian country and looks forward to assisting your Tribe in preparing for the upcoming $100 million IHBG NOFA.
Thank you for your continued leadership and commitment to serving your community. Please consider taking a few minutes to discuss your housing challenges and needs with our team to see how we may be able to be a support.