NHA: 81 new homes in fiscal year 2018


Officials for the Navajo Housing Authority announced Wednesday the agency has received confirmation from HUD that it will receive $84.9 million in housing funds from the federal government for this fiscal year.

The notification comes with only three months to go in this fiscal year, which is not unusual. Since NHA had monies left over from previous years, it was able to go ahead and make decisions based on the expectation that the funds for this year would ultimately be approved.

“That’s the amount that we normally get,” said Roberta Roberts, NHA’s interim chief executive officer.

The agency has already submitted a request of $101.7 million for the next fiscal year, which starts on Oct. 1, which would be used to construct 81 new homes.

Roberts said this request has already been approved by the Council’s Resources and Development Committee and is now being sent to HUD for approval.

The letter from HUD for this year’s allocation was received on Friday but the funds have not been transferred to the U.S. Treasury yet, she said.

“A lot of people have the misconception that when we are allocated funds, we get a check and we put it in the bank,” Roberts said.

In actuality, the money is placed in the U.S. Treasury under a cost reimbursement system, which means that NHA spends the money, reports the expediter to the U. S. Treasury, which then reimburses the agency, usually within three days.

Currently, NHA has $182 million being held by the U.S. Treasury from the previous two grant periods for future housing construction.

That’s a sharp reduction from the $430 million that NHA had in abeyance just three years ago and which resulted in a great deal of criticism from members of the Navajo Nation Council as well as Navajo Nation President Russell Begaye who questioned why NHA had that much money just sitting in the U.S. Treasury when there was such a great need for housing.

Since then, however, the former CEO, Aneva Yazzie, managed to reduce the amount annually to its present size.

Roberts said the agency expects to keep an amount equal to a year and half to two years of grants in reserve to allow for construction to continue while the agency waits for the federal government to make its annual allocation available.

And while there are those who would like to see the money reduced to close to zero, that’s not the way that public housing agencies operate, Roberts said.

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Bill Donovan

Bill Donovan has been writing about the Navajo Nation government since 1971 and for the Navajo Times since 1976. He is currently semi-retired and is living in Torrance, California, and continues to report for the Navajo Times.