Tribes awarded $15.4M for virus recovery, housing

Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson, middle left, talks to a Spirit Lake Tribe tribal member in North Dakota (Photo Courtesy Department of Housing and Urban Development)

Kolby KickingWoman

Updated: The money will go to 16 tribes in Alaska, Arizona, California, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Utah

Kolby KickingWoman

Indian Country Today

As the coronavirus begins to spike once more in portions of the country, the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development is releasing CARES Act funds to a number of tribes across six states.

Overall, the agency on Thursday awarded $15 million to 16 tribes in Alaska, Arizona, California, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Utah.

The money was given through its Indian Community Development Block Grant Imminent Threat Program, which provides tribes assistance to prevent, prepare and respond to the coronavirus.

This initial release of funds is the first portion of $100 million that will be granted to tribes in total.

Projects being funding include building emergency operation centers, building transitional housing or fixing existing hotels for tribal citizens affected by the coronavirus, as well as constructing rental houses to avoid overcrowding and for the homeless population.

“From helping tribes build more affordable housing to building a place where families can go to quarantine, this funding will help Native Americans persevere during this unprecedented time,” said Hunter Kurtz, assistant secretary for Public and Indian Housing.

Kurtz said the department received around 250 applications and is going through them as quickly as possible. 

Ben Carson, middle left, visits the Spirit Lake Tribe in North Dakota (Photo Courtesy Department of Housing and Urban Development)
Ben Carson, middle left, visits the Spirit Lake Tribe in North Dakota. (Photo Courtesy Department of Housing and Urban Development)

Applications were accepted on a first come, first served basis. And while the agency most likely won't be able to fund all applicants, it will be able to fund many of them. 

"We're getting it out the door rather than waiting until we sort of get everything for the $100 million in," Kurtz told Indian Country Today. "We want to just get this funding out there as quickly as possible."

He added there was a limit on how much tribes could receive based off funding that had been distributed in the past. The department will be announcing more tribes that are receiving funding in the coming weeks. 

Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson said the money will assist many during these turbulent times.

“Today’s grant announcement will help families throughout Indian Country to access essential resources amid the coronavirus outbreak,” he said in a release.

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Kolby KickingWoman, Blackfeet/A'aniih, is a reporter/producer for Indian Country Today's Washington bureau. He is from the great state of Montana. Follow him on Twitter, @KDKW_406. Email, kkickingwoman@indiancountrytoday.com

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