NAHASDA Saved Lives
It Can Save More
It Created Affordable Housing and Services in Gallup
NAHASDA, a HUD funded program (Native American Housing Assistance and Self Determination Act of 1996) administered by Indian tribes, has funded CARE 66 programs that given people a home and a second chance at life. NAHASDA is a very flexible program and when done right could stimulate investment, prosperity and access to opportunity.
In the light of the recent articles in the Arizona Republic and KOB Albuquerque, I would like to offer a few thoughts and some perspective, in no particular order. I would also like to add that, in my experience, these revelations generally have negative impacts on the program. NAHASDA has helped save lives in this community.
For the last ten years, CARE 66 has worked with the Navajo tribe to address homelessness and affordable housing in Gallup.
About a third of the costs of renovating the Lexington Hotel came from the Navajo Nation. The Lexington Hotel provides shelter, it is also great example of the Housing First model of permanent supportive housing in Gallup. A majority of our clients are Navajo.
Similarly, the Nation contributed about 68% or $7.1 million of the development costs for Hooghan Ho’zho in downtown Gallup. Thirty of the units are set aside for Native American families.
· Leadership: A lot depends upon the capacity and vision of the leadership. Our projects were correctly perceived to be innovative. By extension, innovative is difficult. It requires persistence, engagement and hard work.
· Learning: Innovation demands learning. We had to learn how to work off reservation with rules designed for working on reservations. We had to learn to trust and to recognize that setbacks would be part of the process.
· Partnership: Because the Nation was not providing all of the funding we had to learn to work with USDA, HUD, a private bank, a technical assistance provider and lender, and a religious lender. In addition, we had to work within city, county and state regulations.
· Flexibility: NAHASDA can be very flexible. However, this flexibility needs to be implemented in a consensus across a range of departments and perspectives. This takes a lot of meetings.
In the City of Gallup, our market study show that approximately 1000 Native American families are in need and able to afford some kind of affordable housing. This is almost half the Native population of Gallup.
In conclusion, NAHASDA can work very well if all parties are willing to work together towards common goals.