Navajo Housing Authority receives housing grant

Noel Lyn Smith
Navajo Housing Authority maintenance worker Charlie Bahe works on the cracked ceiling of a home Thursday in Ojo Amarillo.

FARMINGTON – The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development has allocated $86.4 million through its Indian Housing Block Grant program to the Navajo Housing Authority.

HUD made the announcement this week in a press release, which explained the Indian Housing Block Grants are yearly allocations made to eligible tribes or their designated housing entities.

NHA is the tribe-designated housing entity for the Navajo Nation and is one of 587 tribes or designated housing entities in 35 states to receive a piece of the $660 million allocation for fiscal year 2016.

The Indian Housing Block Grant program benefits low-income families residing on reservations or in American Indian or Alaska Native communities, the release states.

According to the release, the grant amount is based on a formula that considers local needs and housing units under management by the tribe or designated housing entities.

"Tribes use this funding to build new homes, or to solve their most pressing housing issues. Our partnerships with tribal communities and leaders are critical today to help ensure better housing, neighborhoods and economic opportunities for tomorrow," HUD Secretary Julián Castro said in the release.

M.O.B. Construction workers Myron Yazzie, left, John Leo and Nathan Davis install a wood stove Thursday in a home in Ojo Amarillo.

The Indian Housing Block Grant program is used by NHA to complete renovations and modernization activities, NHA public relations coordinator Christian Bigwater said.

An example of that service was underway Thursday at the housing area near Ojo Amarillo Elementary School. Charlie Bahe, a maintenance technician with NHA, was applying joint compound to a crack in the ceiling inside one of the houses. Earlier in the day, he completed preparation work so the interior walls could be painted.

"All we're doing is getting ready for painting," Bahe said, adding he would start the work today.

In another house in the residential area, a three-member crew from M.O.B. Construction was installing a new wood stove.

Native Colors painter Kurt Williams and owner Vincent Gishie work on a home Thursday in Ojo Amarillo.

At the housing area near the Navajo Agricultural Products Industry Region II scales, carpentry work and exterior painting were being done on a section of homes.

New fencing also was being installed as part of the modernization project for that residential area.

Noel Lyn Smith covers the Navajo Nation for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4636.