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Indian housing taps into TV network

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WASHINGTON- You could call it IHA TV.

Indian Housing Authorities (IHAs) and tribally designated housing entities (TDHEs) will now be able to get training and other information through a public television network being used by their cousins in public housing.

The National American Indian Housing Council here and Amerind Risk Management Corp., Albuquerque, will team next year, to offer an Indian Housing Television Network in conjunction with the one already being offered to public housing authorities (PHAs), Housing Television Network.

NAIHC, the national association of IHAs and TDHEs, will pick nine tribal sites to uplink to HTN via satellite for the kind of "distance learning" training and technical assistance currently being offered by many colleges and PHAs, the group said.

Among the training courses available will be "Native American Housing Assistance and Self-Determination Act (NAHASDA) Basics" and "Board of Commissioners' Roles and Responsibilities."

Technical assistance offered will include three-hour presentations on housing plans and annual performance reports by a team of NAIHC specialists.

NAIHC also noted that there are generic HTVN programs, such as on home maintenance, which would apply equally to Indian housing as public housing, and which may be broadcast on Indian Housing Television.

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According to John Seignemartin, NAIHC's special projects director, "with tribes located all across the country, this technology is cost-effective because it saves time and costs of travel." The interactivity allowed by the technology also will be useful in training IHA and TDHE housing staff, allowing for quizzes from instructors and feedback from students.

Seignemartin said this electronic training will not replace on-site visits to reservations by NAIHC staff, but it will increase access to some places.

Kent Paul, chief executive of Amerind, which is an Indian housing risk-sharing pool, said the venture with NAIHC "is a strong example of Indian unity and what can be accomplished when we work together."

Gary Gordon, NAIHC executive director, noted that the program comes at a time when federal funding has decreased.

NAIHC currently offers many training courses to Indian housing professionals. Some of them are funded by the federal government and are free to tribes, but some are not.

Some recent training sessions scheduled by NAIHC included "Payroll Management Training" in late October in Phoenix; "Small Tribes Implementation" also in Phoenix; a "Board of Commissioners Training" in early November in Anchorage; and a Self Monitoring Training in Tulsa, Okla. in early November. A Strategic Planning Training will take place May 11 - 12, 2004 in Denver.

NAIHC offers some scholarships to cover travel and tuition expenses.