NAFOA Housing Panel Aims to 'Raise the Roof'


The panel session “Raising the Roof: a Discussion of Indian Housing” at the Native American Finance Officers Association (NAFOA)’s 30th anniversary conference in New Orleans on March 20 and 21 was created to address Native government housing assistance, the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) ongoing Indian housing needs study, and the reauthorization of the Native American Housing Assistance and Self Determination Act (NAHASDA).

Cheryl Causley, executive director of the Bay Mills Housing Authority in Michigan and chairwoman of the National American Indian Housing Council (NAIHC), will facilitate the discussion. She pointed out that the Administration’s proposed 2013 budget flat lines housing assistance under NAHASDA at $650 million. “It is too low,” with NAIHC advocating instead for $875 million, she told Indian Country Today Media Network.

However, it could be worse. “[The federal Office of Management and Budget] did a wonderful job to keep that amount. We fared better than a lot of organizations.”

The $875 million “would make a tremendous difference,” she said. The need for housing is growing as the Native population increases, she said. HUD is currently doing a study on Native housing needs. Causley’s advice for the agency is terse: “Get more tribal input.”

NAIHC is currently holding meetings with members in each of its nine districts to brief them on the reauthorization of NAHASDA, which is coming up next year. NAHASDA has been an important tool in Native housing since—as the words “Self Determination” in the title indicate—NAHASDA acknowledges tribes’ sovereign authority over federal housing assistance.

Other panelists include Juel Burnette, sales manager of Native American finance for Wells Fargo Home Mortgage. Burnette is a member of he Rosebud tribe and Wells’ point man on the HUD 184 loans, a mortgage specifically designed for Native Americans that guarantees 100 percent of a lender’s outlay. Rodger Boyd, Navajo, HUD’s deputy assistant secretary for Native American programs, is also set to speak. HUD supervises NAHASDA assistance to tribes.

The federal government will be represented by Tedd Beulow, Native American coordinator for the federal Rural Development (RD) agency. RD’s Rural Housing Service section 502 and section 504 mortgages are popular loans in Indian country. Annette Bryan, executive director of the Puyallup (Washington state) Tribal Housing Authority, will also participate the panel.