NHA receives warning from HUD

By Cindy Yurth
Tséyi' Bureau

WINDOW ROCK, May 16, 2013

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T he U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development has sent a letter to the Navajo Housing Authority warning the entity it is spending its federal funding much too slowly and is in violation of the Native American Housing and Self-Determination Act.

"In reviewing NHA's PY (program year) Annual Performance Report," the April 30 letter reads, "the Northern Plains Office of Native American Programs determined that a majority of the program activities ... had not been accomplished or been only partially accomplished."

According to HUD, NHA budgeted $216 million in housing block grant funds last year and only spent $67 million.

"In other words," the letter reads, "only 31 percent of the planned 2012 expenditures were actually spent."

"NHA's failure to timely expend the amount of IHBG funds budgeted in its IHP has a direct and substantial negative effect on Navajo tribal members," reads the letter.

NHA spokesman Christian Bigwater did not return a phone call asking for a response to the letter.

HUD also indicated 2012 was not the first time NHA failed to spend all its federal funding.

"Historically, NHA has been slow in implementing its planned activities," reads the letter, noting that SWONAP twice notified NHA of its concerns, in 2008 and 2010.

"This egregious pattern of practice has resulted in an enormous unexpended balance of $432,950,182.33 ... as of April 30, 2013," the letter accuses.

According to HUD, 2013 seems to be continuing the pattern. As of April 30, "NHA has only expended 4 percent of the total amount awarded for activities to be undertaken by sub-recipients and 7 percent for activities to be undertaken directly by NHA during PY13."

This is in spite of repeated efforts at technical assistance from HUD personnel, accuses the letter signed by Randall R. Akers, administrator for HUD's Northern Plains Office of Native American Programs.

If NHA does not either return the money or provide evidence it is complying with NAHASDA regulations, the letter threatens, HUD will undertake disciplinary action that could include reducing future grants or replacing NHA as the tribally designated housing authority.

This might be good news for the Navajo Nation Council's Resource and Development Committee, which itself has been trying to wrest the TDHE designation from NHA.