Major Tribal Construction Seminar, 10-11 March 2011 in Albuquerque

(Indianz.com)

Tribal construction and infrastructure project development involve a unique set of issues.  Law Seminars International is presenting a two-day symposium at the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center in Albuquerque, New Mexico on March 10-11 covering topics that will facilitate construction and development in Tribal communities.

Topics to be covered include:

• Updates on tribal construction funding and financing programs
• Making effective use of economic development bonds
• Setting up the best project delivery methods
• Drafting contract documents
• Federal construction programs
• Making effective use of economic development bonds
• Tribes as contractors
• Structuring business relationships
• TERO compliance programs
• NEPA review for non-tribal facilities
• Liability and financial risk management for tribes
• Effective supervision and dispute resolution

The distinguished faculty includes experts from across the nation including : 

  • Don Chapman, Sr. Advisor, Native American Affairs, U.S. Department of Commerce
  • John Rever, P.E., Director, Facilities, Environment and Cultural Resources, DOI
  • Terry Brunner, New Mexico State Director, U.S. Department of Agriculture
  • Marlin Knight, Native American Program Specialist, U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development
  • W. Gregory Guedel, Foster Pepper Native American Group Chair and Chair of the American Bar Association’s Native American Concerns Committee

Program details and registration are available HERE

New Federal Law Boosts Housing For Native American Veterans

President Obama has signed into law new legislation supporting affordable housing for Native American veterans and their survivors, fixing a problem that resulted in many Native veterans who receive federal disability and survivor benefits being denied support under the Native American Housing Assistance and Self-Determination Act.

Until now, the benefits had been considered income under NAHASDA, thus reducing Native veterans’ eligibility for further support. NAHASDA was passed in 1996 to allow tribal communities to more easily access housing grants by providing support to families who make less than 80 percent of the median income of their area. The new legislation remedies the problem by specifically excluding veterans’ benefits from the definition of income.

Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick, D-Ariz., introduced the bill last September at the request of the Navajo Housing Authority’s Board of Commissioners “Native Americans have made incredible sacrifices to keep our country safe, and it is unacceptable that Native veterans and their families have been unable to receive the benefits they have earned for so many years,” Kirkpatrick said. “We cannot let our nation’s heroes be punished for their service to our country. Enacting this bill into law will finally right this wrong.” Kirkpatrick is now asking the BIA to correct a similar problem with its Housing Improvement Program that is also causing problems for Native veterans.

Senate efforts were led by Sens. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., and John Thune, R-S.D. “These Native American veterans are already struggling with wounds they suffered from serving our country and certainly shouldn’t shoulder extra financial burdens because of some legislative defect,” Wyden said. “Fixing this unjust flaw in the system is the right thing to do for our veterans, and should be done as fast as possible.”

Tribal Housing Authorities Sue HUD Over Funding Cuts

A growing number of Native American housing agencies are initiating legal action against the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and its Office of Native American Programs, claiming the annual block-grant funds the Tribes receive from the agency under federal law have been illegally reduced. Over 30 reservation-based housing agencies are currently suing HUD to recover funds allocated to Tribal housing programs which HUD then retracted after conducting financial audits.

The first Tribal housing agency to sue HUD over the issue was the Fort Peck Housing Authority, which filed an action in the 10th Circuit in January 2005. The new lawsuits were prompted by Congress’ reauthorization of the Native American Housing and Self-Determination Act earlier this year. The legislation, which was signed into law by President Bush on Oct. 13, placed a November 28, 2008 deadline for Tribal housing authorities to file suit against HUD for any earlier actions by the agency that are subject to dispute.

The Tribal agencies assert that HUD has unlawfully “recaptured” funds allocated to Tribes, and thereby significantly impaired the housing authorities’ ability to provide housing for Tribal members. The agencies allege that HUD recaptured funds by reducing future Native American Housing and Self-Determination Act allocations to Tribal housing agencies in light of internal audit findings the early 2000s.

Recent new plaintiffs suing the department include the Sicangu Wicoti Awanyakapi Corporation of Rosebud, S.D.; Oglala Sioux (Lakota) Housing of Pine Ridge, S.D.; Turtle Mountain Housing Authority of Belcourt, N.D.; Winnebago Housing & Development Commission of Winnebago, Neb.; Lower Brule Housing Authority of Lower Brule, S.D.; Metlakatla Housing Authority of Annette Island, Alaska; Spirit Lake Housing Corporation of Ft. Totten, N.D.; and the Trenton Indian Housing Authority of Trenton, N.D..
 

Bureau of Indian Affairs house, Pine Ridge Reservation, South Dakota