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