Rep. Mary Peltola pushes congress to reauthorize NAHASDA

Published: Nov. 14, 2023 at 11:12 AM AKST
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FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) - Rep. Mary Peltola addressed congress to advocate for the reauthorization of the Native American Housing and Self Determination Act, also known as NAHASDA on Nov. 8th.

Housing is an issue that often comes to mind when we think of big cities, places where homelessness is abundant and communities of tent-based dwellings can be seen. But, finding safe and adequate shelter is also a struggle for those in Alaska’s most remote spaces.

“I’ve heard stories from people across Alaska, some of the most rural and distant parts of our country, of about 20 people sharing a house with only three bedrooms and one bathroom,” said Rep. Peltola. “They sleep in shifts because they don’t have enough space.”

In an effort to combat the issue, Peltola is advocating for the reauthorization of NAHASDA. This act was passed in 1996 and it reorganized the system of housing assistance provided to Native Americans. According to the U.S. Dept. of Housing and Urban Development, this was done by “eliminating several separate programs of assistance and replacing them with a block grant program.” The housing act provided financial guarantees to Native Americans that helped develop affordable housing.

According to the National Low Income Housing Coalition, NAHASDA expired when it failed to be reauthorized in 2013. They also say that congress has continued to fund the programs established by the act despite a lack of reauthorization.

Even with those programs continuing to receive funds, Peltola suggested more needs to be done. “NAHASDA is called the backbone of Indian housing for the essential support block grants and financing it guarantees to develop critical affordable housing and community facilities,” Peltola said. “But, 15 years of inflation since the last reauthorization has decimated housing production.”

Peltola also stated if the act is not reauthorized, Native Americans and Alaska Natives in particular, may have to choose between remaining in the communities where they grew up and where they practice their cultures and subsistence lifestyle and having to find housing in new communities that are unfamiliar and likely disconnected from subsistence life styles.