NORTH FORK — The North Fork Rancheria’s Indian Housing Authority (NFRIHA) was awarded a $5 million U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Indian Housing Block Grant Program grant to support infrastructure for 25 new, low-income housing units.
The grant award was officially announced last week.
“Decent, safe and affordable housing is a scarce and valuable resource for our Tribe and community, and this can lead to unsanitary, unsafe and overcrowded dwelling conditions,” said Tribal Chair Elaine Bethel-Fink. “This grant will help us address some of these dire challenges.”
The competitive HUD grant program supports affordable housing and the North Fork Rancheria was among a small number of California federally-recognized tribes to receive a grant in this round of funding.
The Tribe’s grant amount matched the highest received by any tribal entity in the state.
“It is no secret there are serious housing issues in Indian Country and more needs to be done,” said HUD Secretary Ben Carson in a video press release announcing the awards. “These grants will be used to develop new affordable housing, rehabilitate existing housing units, upgrade infrastructure, and more. I’m particularly proud that these funds will also leverage additional resources to equip tribes with much-needed funding.”
In just the past few years, the NFR-IHA has acquired or constructed 13 housing units, rehabilitated another 114 units and provided emergency rental and down payment assistance for more than 75 units.
The Tribe’s success over the years with various federal grant programs has helped it reshape the face of North Fork. The Tribe has taken the lead in building, expanding or refurbishing a Tribal Headquarters Office, Community Center, Family Wellness Youth center, North Fork Volunteer Fire Station, TANF Social Services Building, Transportation & Training Center, solar units for low-income housing, a water storage tank, General Store, Sierra Mono Museum Expansion and Renovation and a future Cultural and Environmental Protection Center.
“This is yet another example of the North Fork Rancheria conducting vital economic and cultural work in Eastern Madera,” said District 5 County Supervisor Tom Wheeler. “They continue to be great partners for investing in various infrastructure projects in our community – and all without the benefit of casino revenues.”
According to Paul Irwin, NFRIHA’s executive director who prepared the grant application and will oversee the construction project, the $5 million grant will greatly enhance the Tribe’s ability to serve its citizens and community.
“This grant provides critical funding to do something about the extreme housing needs of this region and state,” said Irwin. “More funding and resources are required but this award is a huge step forward in our Tribe’s 20-plus year effort to address its housing and infrastructure needs.”