By Teri Walker –
The Navajo Nation is one of four Arizona tribes to be awarded millions in federal aid to improve housing conditions in tribal communities and stimulate local economies.
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development last week awarded more than $56 million to 76 communities across the country. Arizona tribes received $9.7 million, of which the Navajo Nation carved out $5.5 million.
Tribes compete annually for the funds, which are awarded as part of HUD’s Indian Community Development Block Grant Program. The money is intended to improve housing conditions, promote community development and to spur local economies in Native American communities.
“These grants are a step forward in forging solutions to improve the housing and economic conditions for some of our country’s most culturally rich neighborhoods,” said HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan. “I’m impressed at the energy and creativity in how these communities are leveraging public funds to create lasting solutions for countless families.”
Since the aid program began in 1981, the Navajo Nation has received $140 million. This year, the tribe received the maximum amount allowed to a single tribe.
The Navajo Nation’s plan for this year’s money is to develop 10 electrical and sewer projects.
Nine projects were funded to provide electric power lines in the communities of Dennehotso, Jeddito, Kayenta, Wide Ruins, Rock Point, Lechee, Coppermine and Cornfields. Ninety-nine miles of power line will be constructed to serve 144 scattered homes.
A sewer line will be constructed in the Shiprock area of New Mexico to provide sewer service to 90 homes.
The Gila River Indian Community near Phoenix, the Cocopah Indian Tribe near Yuma and the Hualapai Tribe at the Grand Canyon are the other three Arizona tribes awarded grants for 2012.