Navajo Nation of Arizona, New Mexico and Utah

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Shiprock Chapter officials are working on a plan that could help the area become eligible for more federal housing dollars.The land use plan under the Native American Housing and Self Determination Act could help set aside hundreds of acres for future community development. According to a news release from chapter treasurer and secretary Leonard Anthony, the goal of the Housing Development Planning Project is to designate 450 acres in south Shiprock for community development. Officials also have been discussing the need for more business sectors, agricultural and livestock-grazing areas and public buildings. Projects under the Housing and Self Determination Act are funded through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. Last month, $88.6 million was awarded to the Navajo Housing Authority through the act, representing 37 projects - none of which is in Shiprock. Michelle Dotson, executive director of the Navajo Government Development Office in Window Rock, Ariz., said the housing authority application and funding process through the self-determination act is competitive, with successful applicants well-represented by housing corporations. Garbage bags full of donated items meant for the Navajo Nation's homeless went up in flames in a barn fire. The piles of clothes and blankets made it difficult for firefighters to put out the blaze, which destroyed a barn and a trailer next to a home on N.M. 170 April 18 afternoon. Deborah Largo, a missionary with Native American Indian Layman Services, said the items were to be distributed to chapter houses across the reservation. Kristine Gifford, assistant fire chief for La Plata Fire, said the fire would appear to be out, and then the clothing would flare it back up again. The high winds didn't help matters. "It wouldn't have taken nearly as long to put out if it wasn't for the wind," Gifford said. "It would have stayed contained, but the wind picked it up and spread it out." At one point, Largo's five dogs and two horses were trapped in the burning barn. However, to passers-by stopped and freed the animals by cutting a wire fence. Investigators were looking into the cause of the blaze.