House Passes Pearce Native American Housing Bill, Moves to Senate

American Indians scored a grand slam Tuesday when the House announced the bipartisan passage of NAHASDA.
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American Indians scored a grand slam Tuesday when the House announced the bipartisan passage of the Native American Housing and Self-Determination Act Reauthorization of 2014 (NAHASDA).

A voice vote made it possible for increased access to safe and affordable housing throughout Indian country. In November ICTMN reported that the House could take it a step further by authorizing dozens of changes to NAHASDA, originally signed into law in 1996, suggested by tribes themselves making it a grand slam for self-determination. Following the vote, it appears as if the House was listening as a number of reforms to HR 4329 were passed as well. These reforms “will provide lease-to-own programs aimed at providing rural tribes with the means for self-determination, and allow tribes to focus more on money and development, instead of administrative requirements,” according to a House press release.

RELATED: Tribes Seeks Sovereignty Grand Slam With Reauthorization of Housing Act

The bill was introduced by Rep. Steve Pearce, R-NM, and was a major focus of the National American Indian Housing Council (NAIHC) who urged all tribes to lobby their congressional representatives prior to the “lame duck” session opening on November 12.

National Congress of American Indians Executive Director Jacqueline Pata stated in November that “undefinedt was vital for NAHASDA to be reauthorized during the remaining days of this Congress. The housing need in Indian country continues to lag far behind non-Native communities.”

She went on to make the connection between inadequate housing leaving tribes lacking the ability to recruit essential employees – teachers, doctors and law enforcement for example.

Prosperity has eluded Native American families living on tribal land for too long. NAHASDA has been a driving force in reversing this trend on tribal lands, providing opportunity and housing for millions more since its inception in 1996,” Pearce said following the passing. “I am extremely proud to be the sponsor of this legislation, which has been called transformative by tribal leaders. It represents another positive step in modernizing current housing, and providing tribal leaders with greater self-autonomy in meeting the needs that face their communities.”

NAIHC spent 18-months conducting a “listening tour” if Indian housing leaders to gather information that later was used through a consensus process to create 30 potential provisions for the bill’s reauthorization. Out of those 30 a majority of them made it into the bill presented before the House.

I appreciate my colleagues in the House, who have worked with me to make this legislation not only a reality, but a truly bipartisan effort for change.

“Working together, we were able to reduce the burden and expand opportunity in Native housing. These reforms will result in more efficient use of taxpayer money and provide faster approval of projects, allowing tribes to focus money and resources on development and innovation. By providing Native Americans more housing, we expand pride in communities and increase opportunities for the next generation. I urge my colleagues in the Senate to quickly adopt this legislation.”