PABLO – The $4 million in grants awarded the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Housing Authority and announced by Montana’s two U.S. senators Wednesday are a key component of the authority’s overall budget, its director said.
Jason Adams said the money, from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Indian Housing Block Grant Program, is used to operate and maintain more than 500 low-income rental units for tribal members across the Flathead Indian Reservation.
The $4,033,261 is part of almost $21 million in grants destined for Montana’s seven federally recognized Indian reservations under the program.
The Blackfeet Housing Authority in Browning will receive the biggest slice, at just more than $5 million.
“Housing is a basic building block for jobs, economic growth and education,” U.S. Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., said in announcing the grants. “These investments will go a long way toward empowering Indian communities, providing affordable housing and giving Montana families more opportunities to succeed.”
Although the press release out of Baucus’ office said the $21 million “will go toward building affordable housing on Montana’s reservations,” Adams said the $4 million headed to the Flathead Reservation is needed to maintain and operate existing low-income housing.
“The law requires that we charge no more than 30 percent of a person’s income” for rent, he said, “and if there is no income, there is no rent.”
The annual grant money has slowly been decreasing, he added, from a high of approximately $4.3 million, at the same time costs and needs are increasing.
“It’s hard to make ends meet with inflation,” Adams said. “We don’t do what we did five years ago.”
The monies can be used for a variety of housing activities, including building affordable housing or providing assistance to existing housing developed under the Indian Housing Program authorized in 1937, according to Baucus’ office.
U.S. Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont., also hailed the grants.
“Providing more affordable housing in Indian Country will ensure that more Montanans have a safe place to live so they can find work and care for themselves and their families,” Tester said. “This initiative will strengthen communities and help grow Montana’s economy for decades to come.”
In addition to CSKT, the senators also announced grants to
• The Blackfeet Housing Authority, Browning, for $5,027,633.
• The Fort Peck Housing Authority, Poplar, for $4,788,640.
• The Apsaalooke (Crow) Tribal Housing Authority, Crow Agency, for $2,542,067.
• The Northern Cheyenne Tribal Housing Authority, Lame Deer, $1,994,099.
• The Chippewa Cree Housing Authority, Box Elder, $1,421,716.
• The Fort Belknap Indian Community, Harlem, $1,116,729.