Sault Tribe uses Recovery funds for energy efficient upgrades

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SAULT STE. MARIE, Mich. – Brian Gillen, senior advisor from the Chicago Housing and Urban Development Office of Native American Programs toured the Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians reservation housing May 5 in Sault Ste. Marie to review and document projects completed and in progress that are using $5.1 million in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funds the tribe was awarded in April 2009.

A total of $4,793,937 was granted to the tribe’s housing authority with the specific intent of providing energy efficient renovations to existing rental housing units. Of the $5.1 million, $1.7 was awarded by HUD.

“The $4.7 million we received from our grant application will be pooled with our current funds designated for modernization projects to complete extensive green renovations,” said Housing Authority Director Joni Talentino. “The home upgrades will include the installation of new Energy Star rated windows, high efficient furnaces/boilers, water heaters, vinyl siding and exterior doors. These improvements will greatly reduce the heating costs for tribal residents and prolong the useful life of the homes.”

Sault Tribe Housing Authority manages more than 500 units of housing across the Upper Peninsula. Each housing community – Hessel, Sault Ste. Marie, St. Ignace, Marquette, Wetmore, Manistique, Kincheloe, Marquette and Escanaba – will be positively affected by the extensive renovations.

“This is an exciting time for the tribe and housing authority with the opportunity to improve our homes with energy efficient products and provide our members with safe and affordable housing,” said Sault Tribe Chairman Joe McCoy. “Not only are these funds allowing us to improve the lives of our members, but it also created 46 local jobs.”

Local groups including Habitat for Humanity will receive all windows that were taken out of the housing units.

The Sault Tribe has received $7.2 million in ARRA funds to date. Other projects the tribe is funding with these funds include adding an officer to the tribal police department; helping fund the tribe’s Head Start program, the largest of its kind in the state, purchasing new equipment for the tribal health center, and funding various road projects.

Nationwide, more than $242 billion in funds was disbursed by the Department of Housing and Urban Development to similar agencies.