Navajo Nation officials and residents have expressed trepidation about the housing shortages throughout the reservation. As a result, new efforts are underway to restore the reputation of the biggest American Indian public housing authority in the nation. Per the Sante Fe New Mexican, the CFO is resigning after a mutual decision was made by new board members following a financial audit and discussions with tribal leaders.
The new management aims to regain the trust of the people and wants to be held accountable for their actions. To better serve Navajo Nation, an in-depth evaluation of the needs of locals will be performed to determine the best course of action moving forward.
An investigation into the housing authority was prompted by a series of reports by The Arizona Republic. Per the story, the public housing department was granted $803 million over the last decade, however, just a 1,110 homes were built. Of this funding, only $303 million was utilized and the properties that were actually developed remained vacant or had infrastructural problems.
Despite the call for a congressional investigation, no proof of fraudulent activities was found, according to federal regulators working on behalf of Senator John McCain’s office and the Senate Indian Affairs Committee.
The board members, new and old, argued that the money wasn’t solely meant for new developments, but also for upgrading close to 880 older homes and ongoing projects. Some of the funding was also applied to acquiring land and the upkeep of rentals and community centers.
The vast size of the reserve, the lack of access to basic utilities, and the complex ownership rights all exacerbated the challenge of building new homes, per the leaders.
Leaders agree that a significant overhaul needs to be made to meet rising community demands. An estimated 50,000 units are in the works and the move is believed to be a good step in the right direction.