WASHINGTON - After an interregnum of more than a year, the Department of Housing and Urban Development has filled the vacancy at the top of its Office of Native American Programs (ONAP).
Rodger Boyd, Navajo, now heads the office as the new deputy assistant secretary for Indian housing. He replaces Jacqueline Johnson, Tlingit, who left the job in the summer of 2001 to become the executive director of the National Congress of American Indians.
Boyd's appointment may help ease tensions between HUD and Indian housing leaders, who have been at odds over the issue of the amount of consultation HUD should do with tribes before implementing new policies. The issue led to a disruption of a HUD summit with tribal housing leaders last summer.
Boyd is a former economic development director for the Navajo tribe. During his tenure there, the tribe and Washington-based mortgage agency Fannie Mae negotiated the first agreement to bring conventional mortgage lending to the reservation.
Most recently, Boyd headed the Native desk at the Treasury Department's Community Development Financial Institutions Fund.
During his time at the CDFI Fund, he was responsible for a wide-ranging report on American Indian economic development, and helped develop a technical assistance fund for Indian entities seeking to be certified as CDFIs, which loan to or invest to underserved communities.
Thirty-six potential CDFIs received about $2.5 million in technical assistance money last year.
The CDFI Fund's Native American Lending Study concluded that Indian country is almost totally lacking in private equity investment.
According to the study, currently just $10 billion in equity is invested in Native America, a shortfall of $44 billion compared to the percentage for the country as a whole.
As HUD deputy assistant secretary, Boyd will supervise implementation of the just-reauthorized Native American Housing Authority and Self Determination Act (NAHASDA). His duties will involve administering the NAHASDA Indian Housing Block Grants, as well as ONAP's loan guarantee programs and the Indian Community Development Block Grants.
NAHASDA funding for fiscal 2003 is proposed at $646 million, but Congress adjourned without appropriating the money. The National American Indian Housing Council is spearheading a lobbying effort to make sure NAHASDA funding is not cut by the new Congress, which is expected to act on various appropriations bills by the time of President Bush's State of the Union message later this month.
The NAHASDA reauthorization included a compromise on consultation that Boyd will be in charge of implementing in his new job. Congress said HUD must seek negotiated rulemaking with tribes on any further amendments to NAHASDA. It did not hold HUD, however, to mandatory consultation on any existing regulations.
NAHASDA also granted new authority for ONAP's loan guarantee programs, which are directed by Paul Jurkowski. The Title VI program, a leveraging mechanism to stretch tribe's NAHASDA block grant money, now may fund community development projects, as well as housing and infrastructure. To date the program has guaranteed more than $60 million in loans.
The other ONAP loan program, the section 184 Indian mortgage guarantee effort, last year passed $100 million in funding. This year, it may be approved for inclusion in the Federal Home Loan Banks' mortgage purchase programs.
The Indian Community Development Block Grant provides direct grants to tribes or tribal organizations to develop housing and economic opportunity for low-to-moderate income members.
ONAP also maintains two websites, Code Talk and Native eDGE. Code Talk is a Native-related interagency bulletin board, while Native Edge is an interactive economic development tool.
ONAP is based in Washington and Denver, and has six area offices around the country. They are Chicago (Eastern Woodlands region), Oklahoma City (Southern Plains); Phoenix (Southwest); Denver (Northern Plains), Seattle (Northwest) and Anchorage (Alaska).
It is part of HUD's Public and Indian Housing program, which is headed by assistant secretary Michael Liu.
Ted L. Key served as interim director of ONAP until Boyd's appointment.