Housing receives federal grant to repair tribal-owned homes

By Casey Brown of the CUJ

MISSION – Funds from a $30,000 federal grant will be used to repair houses owned by tribal members on the Umatilla Indian Reservation.

This is the first time the Housing Department has received a grant from the National American Indian Housing Council (NAIHC). However, the purpose of the NAIHS grant – safety upgrades and home repairs – is similar to previous federal Housing Preservation grants that the CTUIR has received in past years and has applied for again this year.

According to Pamela Ranslam, Homeownership Program Manager, the priorities for homeowners are roof repairs, cleaning and replacement of septic systems, and remediation of mold and/or dry rot.

“It is giving us a safety net that we have always needed,” Ranslam said.

Unmet needs in Indian Country were illustrated clearly in USDA’s 2017 Housing Needs of American Indians and Alaska Natives in Tribal Areas. According to an NAIHC press release, the report found that “tribal homes experience rates of substandard plumbing at 4.3 times the national average and substandard heating at 6 times the national average.” Those interested in applying for funding will need to fill out an application, and document household income as well as proof of homeownership.

Ranslam said that some homeowners can be apprehensive about filling out paperwork or providing documentation, especially financial information, but it is a requirement of the grant. Information will be kept confidential, she said. Ranslam said the Housing Department’s funding for emergencies like broken water heaters will likely be slimmer in the future because of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, this new grant can help homeowners replace water heaters and make other repairs now.

Ranslam thinks the money will be helpful in several reservation households.

“It is another way we can serve those tribal members within the community that need help keeping their homes safe for them to live in for the remainders of their lives,” Ranslam said.