Last Thursday the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs (SCIA) announced Senate passage of their amendment to reauthorize the Native American Housing Assistance and Self-Determination Act (NAHASDA) to be included with the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) as part of an 86-11 vote. Legislation to reauthorize NAHASDA has been introduced every Congress since 2013.
From Chairman Schatz (D-HI) “NAHASDA is a critical housing law for American Indians, Native Hawaiians, and Alaska Natives, this amendment is an important win for Native communities to address their urgent housing needs. NAHASDA reauthorization has gone through regular order and been well-studied for years. I thank Vice Chairman Murkowski for her partnership in moving this priority forward through Committee and now the full Senate.”
SCIA Vice Chair Murkowski (R-AK) added “I’m pleased the Senate has overwhelmingly agreed to add our amendment to reauthorize and reform the Native American Housing and Self-Determination Act to this year’s NDAA. In my home state of Alaska and in Native communities across the country, housing shortages and overcrowding are plaguing families, particularly as they try to overcome rising interest rates, rents, and construction costs. I thank my Senate colleagues for supporting this amendment, as well as the many tribal leaders and organizations who have long supported this important bipartisan legislation. We will all be working hard, together, to ensure this remains part of the final NDAA negotiated with the House of Representatives.”
From the SCIA summary of key provisions in the amendment:
• Consolidates the number of environmental reviews for tribal housing projects.
• Allows tribes to use block grant dollars to assist tribal members with education related housing expenses.
• Raises the “de minimis” exemption for spending on procurement contracts without enforcing applicable procurement policies in order to be in line with other federal programs.
• Removes the prohibition on the Indian Health Service using available grant dollars to fund the construction of wastewater facilities for tribal housing projects located on or near Indian Health Service facilities.
• Increases the 50-year limitation on leasing tribal lands to 99 years in order to ensure long-term certainty and incentivize financing for the construction of housing
• Streamlines the process for mortgages to receive approval of federal guarantees under the Section 184 Indian Home Loan Guarantee Program and Section 184A Native Hawaiian Housing Loan Guarantee Program.
• Allows tribal housing authorities to use IHBG formula dollars to leverage other federal housing programs.
• Authorizes the Secretary to expedite the procedure to cancel mortgages issued under the 184 and 184A programs if it is determined that the mortgage was obtained through illegal or fraudulent activity.
• Allows the Department to expedite the suspension of NAHASDA funds if it is determined that the tribe violated program rules. It also provides a notice and hearing procedure for the tribe to appeal the determination.
Expand Access to Housing Resources
• Allows funds to be used towards the prevention of drug related violent crimes at NAHASDA housing projects and the use of culturally appropriate community development activities to address housing and drug abuse.
• Includes Native CDFIs as eligible financial institutions under the 184 and 184A programs to increase home ownership.
• Expands the service area of the 184 and 184A programs.
• Incentivizes tribes to move members from renting to homeownership by reforming current HUD rental program requirements and providing more authority for tribal housing authorities to enter into contracts for “rent to own” of tribally constructed housing projects.
• Authorizes the Tribal HUD-VASH program. This program was developed to assists at-risk veterans by providing housing vouchers that are coupled with healthcare services.