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HUD Secretary Tours Indian Reservation
 by: Sean Carpenter

HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan's response to some of the dilapidated housing he viewed while touring the Rosebud Indian Reservation in South Dakota was simple:

"It's just not right."

Affordable housing needs are especially high on Indian reservations across the country. On the Rosebud reservation alone, at least 360 housing units are needed.

Secretary Donovan, along with Sen. Tim Johnson (D-SD), recently announced that $65 million in funding is now available for the development of affordable housing on Indian reservations. Northern Plains tribes, including the Rosebud reservation, are scheduled to receive just under $9 million. Rosebud's Housing Authority is currently using Federal money to build twelve homes on the reservation, which in turn provides construction jobs for tribal members who would otherwise be unemployed.

Funding is administered through HUD's Office of Native American Programs (ONAP), which has six regional offices and is headquartered in Washington, D.C. ONAP is currently conducting a series of housing outreach sessions across the country, aimed at evaluating affordable housing needs among Native Americans. The first took place in Reno, Nevada. Upcoming sessions are scheduled for Honolulu, Hawaii; Hollywood, Florida; Seattle, Washington; and Anchorage, Alaska.

The next Federal budget is expected to include a five percent increase in funding for Indian Country projects, bringing the total to $18.5 billion. Secretary Donovan is hopeful that the additional funds will help Indian tribes continue to address, among other things, their affordable housing needs. Though we are now into Fiscal year 2011, a Federal Budget has not yet been approved, so the amount of funding available for housing development on Indian Reservations is uncertain.

If additional funds are allocated, they, combined with the significant shortage of affordable housing on Indian reservations, represents a lot of potential business for developers who make the effort to address the unique needs of a tribal community. Interested parties are encouraged to contact HUD's Office of Native American Programs for additional information.

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