News | Legislative & Policy Updates

Much-Needed Indian Housing Bill is Up for Renewal

Much-Needed Indian Housing Bill is Up for Renewal

The need for affordable and safe housing in Indian Country is extreme. According to a U.S. Senate report, more than 25% of American Indian homes have severe housing needs.  Of those homes, 28% lack adequate plumbing or kitchen facilities. In comparison, only 5.4% of households nationally lack adequate plumbing or kitchen facilities. There is an estimate of 200,000 housing units that are needed immediately in Indian Country.  Approximately 90,000 Native families are homeless or under-housed. This means that many families live in crowded conditions in one home.  (See Senate report at this link.)

In 1996, Congress passed the Native American Housing Assistance and Self-Determination Act (NAHASDA).  The act stated that the federal government has a responsibility to promote the general welfare of the nation by using federal resources to help families find safe and affordable housing.  Further, the U.S. government has a unique relationship with tribal governments and has a  responsibility to aid Indian tribes and its members in improving housing conditions and socioeconomic status. NAHASDA was also enacted to further tribal self-governance and to streamline the process of providing housing assistance to tribes and tribal members. The objectives for this legislation are to promote affordable housing for low-income American Indian families; to promote self-sufficiency and access to private mortgage markets for American Indian families; to further economic development; to implement infrastructure by developing housing; and to promote the development of private capital markets in Indian Country. This law provided funding that was disbursed each year to eligible tribal housing authorities in order to maintain, modernize and build new homes on reservations. The funding may only be used for affordable housing. This funding improved housing conditions in Indian Country, but there is still a huge need for more homes to be built and/or improved. NAHASDA was reauthorized in 2002 and in 2008. It expired on September 30, 2013. There are two bills currently pending in both the Senate and House of Representatives that seek to reauthorize NAHASDA:

S.1352 – Native American Housing Assistance and Self-Determination Reauthorization Act of 2013. This bill was introduced by Senator Maria Cantwell [D-WA] on July 24, 2013.

H.R. 4239 – Native American Housing Assistance and Self-Determination Reauthorization Act of 2014.  This bill was introduced by Representative Stevan Pearce [R-NM] on March 27, 2014. 

There are still large housing needs in Indian Country and the only way they will be addressed is if NAHASDA is reauthorized.  Please call or email your senators or representative to express your support for the reauthorization of NAHASDA.