The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) awarded over $38.9 million in Indian Housing Block (IHB) Grants to 52 tribes nationwide. HUD received almost 200 applications from eligible Native American Tribes and tribally-designated housing entities. Of the 12 tribes and villages awarded in the northwest, two Oregon tribes received funds to preserve and expand their affordable housing.
The Cow Creek Band of Umpqua Tribe of Indians in Roseburg received over $3 million and the Coquille Indian Housing Authority in Coos Bay received over $1 million.
This is in addition to the $147 million Native housing authorities will receive for the 2019 fiscal year to almost 300 tribes and villages in Alaska, Oregon and Washington.
Anne Cook is the Executive Director of the Coquille Indian Housing Authority. She said the tribe operates 128 low income housing units, half of which are located on Coquille tribal lands and the other half are tenant-based rental assistance units located off of tribal lands.
Despite 45% of the households on tribal lands having accessibility needs, many units still need accommodations.
“Of the 64 that are on Coquille tribal lands, only about 5% of those are currently constructed to meet the needs of people with physical disabilities,” said Cook.
Cook said this will be the first time in over 15 years that the Coquille tribal will be able to construct a new dwelling.
The housing authority will add more developments with universal design—architecture that eliminates barriers for people with different physical ability levels. Accommodations include wider doorways and hallways, additional floor space in restrooms, lower countertops in kitchens, rocker switches for lights, higher electrical outlets for those in a wheelchair or walker, and more natural lighting in certain areas.
The funding will be used to update three existing single-family units and build three new accessible units.
With 25% of Tribal Lands residents being 55 years or older, Cook said they need more accessible housing units.
“Coquille tribe’s demographics skew a little bit younger than the population as a whole, but the tribe also has a lot of people that are aging that are part of the boomer generation that need special accommodation as they age,” said Cook. “And we want to be able to accommodate their aging in place.”
Construction of the six housing units will start in June 2020. Cook said renovations to the three existing single-family units will be completed in summer 2020 and development of the three new accessible units will be completed by the end of September 2021.
The IHB grant is administered by HUD’s Office of Native American Programs and is expected to produce 1,200 affordable housing units in 16 states for low-income families living on reservations or other tribal areas.