Press-Republican

June 27, 2013

Federal grants to fund new homes

By DENISE A. RAYMO Press-Republican
Press-Republican

---- — AKWESASNE — Eight new homes will be built in Akwesasne with $2.3 million in federal funding awarded annually for Indian housing.

Five tribes in New York will receive a total of nearly $6 million for affordable-housing projects through the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Indian Housing Block Grant program.

The Akwesasne Housing Authority’s share of $2,302,774 will pay to build the houses, said Retha Herne, the agency’s executive director.

The construction will likely start in 2014 now because the funding notification came Tuesday, she said, which is later than in other years.

The federal government’s sequestration slowed the process and cost the authority $200,000 in its anticipated funding.

“Five percent was taken off our block grant and other adjustments at the federal level,” she said. “We had applied to construct nine houses, but with the sequestration, we can do only eight and still maintain our staff.”

‘SECURITY, SUCCESS’

The reduced funding was the second disappointment for the authority, which recently lost out on State Community Renewal funding for a proposed 24-unit affordable-housing complex.

Herne said the agency will reapply for that program at the end of the year in hopes of approval in 2014.

Affordable housing has been a priority for the governing St. Regis Mohawk Tribal Council, which wants to be able to bring home community members who live in surrounding towns because fewer rental units are available.

In awarding the annual funding, HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan said, “Hard-working American families in tribal communities should be able to live in communities where they have a fair shot to reach their potential.”

The money “will give tribal communities the tools to maintain quality housing, prevent overcrowding, improve public safety and provide other basic building blocks of security and success,” he said in a news release.

Email Denise A. Raymo:draymo@pressrepublican.com