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Money OK’d for apartment complex in Navajo, N.M.

WINDOW ROCK

The Naabik’iyati’ Committee approved $4.1 million from the Sihasin Fund for a proposed 25-unit apartment/multipurpose complex in Navajo, New Mexico.

The Sihasin Fund is to provide financial support and/or financing for the planning and development of economic development and infrastructure supporting economic development.

The fund should also be used for community development such as housing, commercial and government buildings, waterlines and a variety of other projects.

According to these guidelines and the legislation (No. 067-22), the Sihasin Fund can fund the apartment complex because criteria has been met.

The funding is requested by the Navajo Townsite Community Development Corporation. The goal is to provide housing for families in the Navajo and Red Lake communities.

If approved by Council, the total amount of funds used for the complex is $7.1 million. Of this, $3 million will come from American Rescue Plan Act and the remaining $4.1 million is the amount being requested.

The proposed facility would consist of 24 units varying from one- to three-bedroom apartments, a community multi-purpose facility and an outdoor recreation and landscaped space.

Prestene Garnenez, executive director at NTCDC, said the facility will be mixed income meaning the complex will be open to people with higher incomes.

“The reason we’re doing this and not trying to go after NAHASDA (Native American Housing Assistance and Self Determination Act) monies is that NAHASDA monies and Indian Housing Block Grant monies are restricted to providing homes for low-income families,” Garnenez said.

She said there is a group of people that the Nation is not building homes for and that is people who make higher incomes.

“So, we end up having folks to either move and live in Gallup or who move completely far away from the reservation,” she said. “So, we want to be able to provide housing to those folks who don’t necessarily qualify for low-income housing.”

However, NTCDC is aware there is a need for low-income housing and a portion of the units will be available for low-income families.

Delegate Eugenia Charles-Newton agreed with the lack of homes for working middle-class families.

“We often hear from our working middle-class Navajo families saying they are not eligible for any type of home whether it’s NHA or rental homes,” she said. “We also do see a lot of our young professionals who come back here to the Nation, wanting to work for the Nation but they don’t have homes.”

Despite supporting the legislation in some areas, Charles-Newton had concerns about rental rates.

Garnenez responded to Charles-Newtons concerns and said the team working on the complex looked at the fair market value of rent for McKinley, San Juan and Apache counties and last year the fair market value of rent for a one-bedroom apartment varied from $596 to $695 and for a three bedroom it varied from $966 to about $1,050.

She said the numbers that were put together for the complex in Navajo will be $450 for a one bedroom, $550 for a two bedroom, and $650 for a three bedroom.

“Our projections that we were thinking will still be below what is fair market value because this is Navajo, New Mexico, and there’s not as many amenities as there are in other communities so we’re taking that into consideration as well,” Garnenez said.

Garnenez said she has made it her lifework to see her community improve because she remembers how it used to be and it has been sad to see it deteriorate.

“A number of different things that we’re doing to try and ensure that there is success for our little community,” she said. “We’re not just sitting on our hands, waiting for the Navajo Nation to save us but asking for a helping hand. We’re trying to do as much as we can on our own.”


About The Author

Hannah John

Hannah John is from Coyote Canyon, N.M., and currently based out of Gallup as a reporter for the Navajo Times. She is Bit’ah’nii (Within His Cover), born for Honágháahnii (One Who Walks Around), maternal grandfather is Tábaahí (Water Edge) and paternal grandfather is Tódich’ii’nii (Bitter Water). She recently graduated from the University of New Mexico with a bachelor’s in communications and a minor in Native American studies. She recently worked with the Daily Lobo and the Rio Grande Sun.

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