Conversation is Part of Senator’s Ongoing Effort to Improve Housing Conditions in Indian Country through Increased Public-Private Partnerships & Federal Support
WASHINGTON, D.C. – November 2, 2015 – (RealEstateRama) — U.S. Senator Heidi Heitkamp pressed the U.S. housing secretary for sustained solutions to improve dire housing conditions across Indian Country, including strengthening public-private partnerships.?
During a conversation with U.S. Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Julián Castro, Heitkamp emphasized the need for broader solutions to promote long-term housing strategies on Indian lands. Specifically, Heitkamp and Castro discussed potential areas of collaboration to improve public-private partnerships to develop housing in Indian Country. Heitkamp has long worked with Castro and his agency to strengthen federal support for improving Native housing conditions. Earlier this month, Heitkamp spoke with a group of HUD officials about the importance of building public-private partnerships to encourage investment and support the need for affordable housing.
“Too many Native families live in impoverished communities lacking federal support, forcing them to live in overcrowded, dilapidated homes that pose severe health and safety hazards,” said Heitkamp. “Outside of Indian Country, many of these homes would be condemned. For too long, this crisis has proliferated in the shadows of our federal government and in the peripheries of public awareness – but we can and we must do more to change it. Secretary Castro and I spoke about the need to broaden public-private investments across Indian Country so we can open up access to resources. Since I brought him to visit Turtle Mountain last fall to see these dire conditions in person, North Dakota tribes have seen a renewed federal focus on Native housing, and I’ll keep pushing to strengthen these partnerships to provide solutions that last.”
After speaking with Castro last month about how Native families in North Dakota too often live in overcrowded, dilapidated, and substandard homes that cannot withstand the state’s severe weather conditions, Heitkampsecured $800,000 for the Spirit Lake Sioux Tribe’s mold remediation efforts. The federal funds are part of the $6 million for mold remediation in Indian Country nationwide that Heitkamp helped secure and announced with Castro last fall when she brought him to the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indian reservation? in Belcourt. During that visit, Heitkamp showed Castro the unacceptable housing conditions in which so many Native families live.
According to a U.S. Census 2007-2011 survey, nine percent of Native households are overcrowded at a rate of almost three times that of the rest of the country.
Heitkamp has long worked to address North Dakota’s housing crisis in Indian Country and provide safe, affordable housing to families. As North Dakota’s Attorney General, Heitkamp served on the board of directors of the state’s Housing Finance Agency and worked to promote better housing solutions on tribal lands. Since joining the Senate, Heitkamp has been steadfast in her work to improve housing conditions for families across Indian Country, by:
- Pushing for needed upgrades to tribal housing: As a member of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, Heitkamp has advocated for increased infrastructure and financial solutions to reduce barriers in Indian housing development. In March, Heitkamp helped the Committee pass bipartisan legislation to reauthorize the Native American Housing Assistance and Self-Determination Act (NAHASDA), which supports efforts to provide safe and affordable housing to American Indians. Heitkamp has been pushing for the reauthorization of NAHASDAsince July 2013.
- Engaging the Administration on unsafe conditions in Indian Country: Heitkamp has consistently engaged the President, U.S. housing secretary, and other federal leaders on addressing mold issues across tribal lands. After the President and First Lady visited Standing Rock in June 2014, Heitkamp encouraged President Obama to improve educational conditions for children at Cannon Ball Elementary – a learning facility battling mold, rodent infestation and a leaky roof. Shortly after, the school was awarded technological assistance in every classroom, and President Obama cited his visit as the impetus for his Generation Indigenous Initiative to help Native students overcome barriers to success.
- Securing investments in housing improvements: Last October, Heitkamp brought HUD Secretary Castro to Belcourt to view the dire housing conditions on the Turtle Mountain reservation. During the visit, Castro and Heitkamp announced the approval of $6 million in mold remediation funding. As part of that funding, Heitkamp helped secure $800,000 in mold remediation for the Spirit Lake tribe last month. In February, Heitkampannounced more than $20 million in federal funding to promote safe and affordable housing on tribal lands in North Dakota.