September 19, 2019

Udall Fights for Quality Housing for Indian Country

In Appropriations Committee, Udall presses for NAHASDA reauthorization - critical Native housing program expired in 2013?

Will continue to press for long-term authorization as bill includes $820 million for Fiscal Year 2020

WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Senator Tom Udall (D-N.M), vice chairman of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, offered an amendment to provide housing certainty for Native Americans by reauthorizing the Native American Housing and Self Determination Act (NAHASDA) through fiscal year 2021. Authorization for the program expired in 2013.

Udall offered the amendment during a markup of the fiscal year 2020 Transportation, Housing, and Urban Development (T-HUD) Appropriations Bill. Udall’s amendment was rejected by a margin of 15-16 along party lines, but Udall pledged to continue fighting to reauthorize this critical program and provide long-term certainty for Tribes.  Several Republican Senators who voted against the amendment on process grounds nonetheless agreed to work with Udall with renewed urgency to get NAHASDA passed in the Senate and reauthorized in the 116th Congress.  Udall was successful in securing $820 million in the bill for Native housing, but expressed concern that authorization for this funding has lapsed, causing uncertainty about the fate of funding in future years.

“NAHASDA is a critically important program that provides tribes with the funds to address their housing needs, which are substantial,” Udall said. “Just one example: when compared with the national average, Tribal households are three times more likely to live in an overcrowded house, and eleven times more likely to live in a house that has inadequate plumbing.”

“I am grateful that this bill provides robust funding to NAHASDA’s programs. However, NAHASDA must be reauthorized for tribes to have certainty,” Udall said. “My amendment would reauthorize the Native American Housing Assistance and Self-Determination Act through fiscal year 2021 -- a simple, two-year authorization that would provide much-needed certainty and clarity for Native communities, the budgetary certainty for their ongoing efforts to provide safe and suitable housing for their members -- certainty that has been elusive since NAHASDA’s authorization expired in 2013.” 

For the past three Congresses, NAHASDA has been taken up and passed by the committees of jurisdiction in both the Senate and House, and was passed on a strong bipartisan vote by the full House in 2015. But it has failed to advance in the Senate largely due to a handful of ideological objections.  

“The House passed a clean, bipartisan [NAHASDA] reauthorization in 2015. The Senate Indian Affairs Committee recommended it unanimously at the time. But the full Senate has never acted,” Udall continued. “We cannot get unanimous consent for a clean reauthorization because a small handful of members object to including Native Hawaiians for misguided, ideological reasons.  Native Hawaiians are included today and like many others I stand with the Hawaii delegation in rejecting attempts to include a rider to eliminate them from this program. This amendment is not a poison pill.  Not even close.  It is not a partisan issue.”