The Department of Housing and Urban Development has awarded the first of Indian Community Development Block Grant, Imminent Threat program, with 3.3 million of grant funding to be awarded to 4 villages in Alaska.
The Petersburg Indian Association will receive $900,000, the Native Village of Skagway will receive $900,000, Steven’s Village will receive $899,273, and Chenega will receive $637,149. So far 15 million has been awarded through these programs, with the intention of 100 million to be awarded to the various villages to address specific COVID-19 housing related-issues, like overcrowding and or an inability to quarantine.
This imminent threat program falls under the Indian Community Development Block Grant Program. The ICDB “provides eligible grantees with direct grants for use in developing viable Indian and Alaska Native Communities, including decent housing, a suitable living environment, and economic opportunities, primarily for low and moderate-income persons“.
The Imminent Grant Program is a discretionary program in which the HUD secretary can set aside 5% of each year’s allocation (budget for the ICDB), “for the noncompetitive, first come-first served, funding of grants to eliminate or lessen problems which pose an imminent threat to public health or safety of tribal residents“.
HUD Assistant Secretary of Public and Indian Housing, R. Hunter Kurtz said in a prepared statement:
“From helping Tribes build more affordable housing to building a place where families can go to quarantine, this funding will help Native Americans persevere during this unprecedented time
Each of these villages will use the funds differently of course:
Tracy Welch the tribal administrator for the Petersburg Indian Association, says that they are looking at multiple possible uses for the funds. “the tribal administrator for the Petersburg Indian Association. Welch says the Association is looking either at building a two-bedroom duplex that would be accessible to elderly individuals, or the remodeling of an already existing duplex that is in foreclosure.
The Native Village of Skagway’s tribal administrator, Sara Kinjo-Hischer says that these funds are especially important because Skagway is very unprepared for this pandemic. The village of 800 people only has a small clinic, with one ventilator, and so these funds will go very far to help prepare the village for this crisis, especially in terms of quarantine.
Chegena’s tribal elders only recently learned that they have received these funds, and have not announced what they plan to utilize these funds for.
Here’s what the Alaskan tribes can use these funds towards – according to the U.S Department of Housing and Urban Development:
- Housing: Housing rehabilitation, land acquisition to support new housing construction, and under limited circumstances, new housing construction.
- Community Facilities: Infrastructure construction, e.g., roads, water, and sewer facilities; and, single or multipurpose community buildings.
- Economic Development: Wide variety of commercial, industrial, agricultural projects which may be recipient owned and operated or which may be owned and/or operated by a third party.