Announcement issued late Wednesday by agency board

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FARMINGTON — Navajo Housing Authority CEO Aneva Yazzie will step down from her position on Friday.

The announcement was made in a two-page letter issued late Wednesday by NHA commissioners Kris Beecher, Derrith Watchman-Moore and Sean McCabe.

The letter states the board and Yazzie, who was named CEO in February 2007, made the mutual decision for her to step down, and it is "the first step of many in rebuilding" the tribal housing agency.

The NHA has come under scrutiny since a series of stories was published by The Arizona Republic in December that reported the tribal enterprise has underutilized millions of dollars in federal housing grants designated to supply housing for tribal members.

This month, U.S. Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., released an investigative report that looked into allegations that NHA mismanaged housing grants provided by the U.S Department of Housing and Urban Development.

The board will appoint an interim CEO and initiate a search to name a new top executive, the letter states.

In response to questions from The Daily Times today, board members stated Yazzie will continue in a transitional support role, reporting directly to the board, as the search for a new CEO occurs.

Board members also explained that Yazzie originally planned to end her tenure in October. But after much discussion, her decision to leave was finalized on Wednesday.

"I will miss all the people I have had the opportunity to work with. We gave it our best. At the end of the day, that is all we can do," Yazzie said in a comment to The Daily Times today.

The investigative report released by McCain's office found the NHA received more than $803 million from the Indian Housing Block Grant program over the last 10 years but built only 1,110 homes when the need for housing reaches 34,000 residents or families.

In an effort to improve the NHA and address the housing issue, the Navajo Nation Council passed legislation in January reducing the size of the board from eight to five members and amending the qualification criteria for board members.

The council also approved a bill in April to remove the then-eight board members.

On May 26, members of the tribal council's Naa'bik'íyáti' Committee approved the appointments of Beecher, Watchman-Moore and McCabe to serve on the board.

A fourth person is waiting for confirmation by the committee, and a fifth member has not been named, according to an NHA press release.

The new board members held their first meeting on June 10 in Window Rock, Ariz., the NHA release states.

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

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