The Cherokee Nation has a wonderful housing program and an award-winning housing authority. However, the backlog to repair Cherokee homes has grown over the years, and many of those in need are elderly citizens or Cherokees who live with a disability. That is why I have made it one of my first priorities as Principal Chief to address this problem.
The Housing, Jobs and Sustainable Communities Act of 2019 makes a $30 million investment in repairing Cherokee homes across northeastern Oklahoma. Funding will come from a special dividend issued by Cherokee Nation Businesses over the next three years. This funding will make sure that our most vulnerable citizens get the help they need to live in safe and comfortable homes.
Business as usual has been to wait on federal funding for our housing rehabilitation projects. Our people cannot wait any longer. Fortunately, the Cherokee Nation and CNB are in a position of strength to alleviate the waiting list. That is why we have successful business ventures, so that we can reinvest in our people and our communities.
Currently, more than 650 low-income Cherokee families have various home rehabilitation needs, including new roofs, air-conditioning, electrical or plumbing repairs, installation of wheelchair ramps, or removal of environmental hazards such as lead. More than 400 households on the list include Cherokee elders or citizens with disabilities. The new funding will have an especially dramatic impact for Cherokees in Adair and Sequoyah counties, as each county has more than 100 homes on the improvement waiting list.
Besides investing in our citizens’ homes, the Housing, Jobs and Sustainable Communities Act improves community buildings where Cherokees gather. Under the Act, 75% of the $30 million will help tribal citizens with housing repairs. The remaining 25% will upgrade Cherokee community buildings with air-conditioning systems, Wi-Fi and cost-saving renewable energy technology, including solar panels.
This investment will also create a wide array of construction-related jobs and provide a boost to the economy throughout the Cherokee Nation.
I am grateful to the Tribal Council of the Cherokee Nation for unanimously approving this landmark legislation. We continue to focus on improving communities at the grassroots level across our great Cherokee Nation.
By Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr.