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Unintended consequences from NHA action

Editor:

“Legislation No. 0232-16 proposes to remove the Navajo Housing Authority, or NHA, as the Tribally Designated Housing Entity, or TDHE, and make the Community Housing and Infrastructure Department, or CHID, within the Navajo Nation’s Division of Community Development responsible for administering the Native American Housing Assistance and Self Determination Act program.  Through this legislation the Navajo Nation Council proposes to assume and assert more direct authority and control over the the Act's funds and all related federal program oversight and its compliance requirements.

Housing development on the Navajo Nation is difficult, and I believe the Navajo Nation Council leadership shares with NHA the frustration of providing housing for our people with the limited resources we have available. However, the legislation being proposed will not solve the current situation and will likely have several dire unintended consequences. Should the legislation be passed NHA will immediately have to shut its doors, stop paying contractors, lay-off its nearly 400 employees and completely halt all current construction projects.

This would have an immense impact on the local economy, on Navajo families relying on the paycheck of those NHA employees, and would place millions of dollars of construction work in jeopardy.

During the Resource and Development Committee’s deliberation of the legislation, they inquired whether CHID had a plan to take-over the TDHE and no plan was ready or offered. This is like placing the cart before the horse — without a solid plan the CHID has not considered how it will develop budget accounts, how NHA employee benefits will be reconciled, how current construction projects will continue — there is simply no pragmatic way for the TDHE status to be immediately transferred to CHID right now. Furthermore, the timing for such significant change will also adversely impact the pending HUD litigation, changeover of HUD oversight agencies, the Act's reauthorization and 2017 appropriation funding decisions, and for Navajo Nation that could prove detrimental as it would demonstrate instability in our government.

NHA is calling upon our leadership for a voice of reason. We all have acknowledged that any development on Navajo land is difficult and we should be working together to overcome those obstacles. I would welcome and challenge the Navajo Nation leadership to work together towards solutions instead of taking approaches that leave our nation in a dire situation that would have lasting detrimental impacts to all of our Navajo families. These impacts will reverberate throughout our communities.

In the next few weeks I welcome a quality discussion on these issues and for us to work together towards unified solutions.”

Aneva J. Yazzie

 Navajo Housing Authority Chief Executive Officer

Editor's note: Legislation No. 0232-16 was passed by the Law and Order Committee on July 28th by a vote of 4-0. The legislation next goes to the Naa’bik’íyáti’ Committee. The Navajo Nation Council has the final vote on whether to approve it, and Navajo Nation President Russell Begaye has veto power.

Delayed start creates many problems

Editor:

I want to share my thoughts and feelings about the decision Mr. Gene Schmidt, superintendent of Farmington Municipal Schools, presented to the school board that passed, regarding the 15-Monday, two-hour delay for the upcoming 2016-2017 school year. I understand the importance of professional development to improve teacher skills and techniques to improve the over-all effective strategies in assisting children to be successful during their academic experiences. But by changing the "early-out" schedule that has worked for so many years to a two-hour delay on two Mondays a month, I believe would cause a far-reaching negative cost to our community than just leaving the schedule as is.

I have worked for a private-owned childcare facility in the Farmington area for the past 20-plus years. The hardship that this delay will cause will affect each and every family. Let me list just a few of the problems I see this change will cause.

•I have visited with public school teachers and they are not in favor of this decision either. After just enjoying their week-end the last thing they want to do is go to training on Monday morning! How much will the training really sink in?

•Let's consider the parents for a moment ... most parents HAVE to work. Many families are lower- to middle-class income households or single-parent homes and cannot afford childcare or do not qualify for childcare assistance — how will their supervisors handle the following situations:

--Parents needing to go to work late and losing two hours of productivity and let alone losing wages, which will negatively affect their already low household income.

--Or, parents requesting to take their children to work with them and then leaving to get their children to school on time.

--Or, parents leaving their children home alone, giving them instructions to watch for the bus and be "responsible." This is setting our children up for many forms of "child abuse." I can see children's homes being stalked as to when parents leave for work leaving their children to catch the bus and then the sex offender moves in and "grooms" these latch-key children to trust them. What a tragedy!

•What about the children?

--Is this the way we want our children to start their school week, with a two-hour delay right off the bat? They need to be brought back into the classroom with a regular routine.

I hope you are taking the time to read and understand the ramifications and potential problems this causes all aspects of all those involved who have chosen to work, teach and love their children in the Farmington Municipal School District. Please reconsider your decision and go back to having early out once a month, which is MUCH easier to accommodate for school teachers, parents and childcare providers!

Nancy Jones

Kids Corner Learning Center director

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