FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 3, 2018
NAVAJO, New Mexico – On Apr. 3, U.S. Congressional Rep. Steve Pearce (R-NM) was welcomed by the Navajo Housing Authority (NHA) and participated in a tour of Native American Housing Assistance and Self Determination Act (NAHASDA) funded projects located in New Mexico. Congressman Pearce has been a major champion for Indian Housing and has been the lead sponsor for the reauthorization of the Native American Housing Assistance and Self-Determination Act (NAHASDA). Also accompanying Pearce was New Mexico State Rep. Sharon Clahchischilliage.
The first stop on the tour was Little Folks Day Care Center (LFDC) located in Navajo, New Mexico, where LFDC Executive Director Marsha Smith provided the Congressman a tour of the facility. The tour gave the Congressman a first hand view into the operations of LFDC. Following the tour, the Congressman held a Coffee Meet-and-Greet with staff where he spoke on the importance of making NAHASDA flexible to help provide services in communities such as the daycare services provided at LFDC.
“We are very thankful to Congressman Pearce for his efforts in advocating for NAHASDA funding so that facilities like Little Folks Day Care can be built throughout Indian Country,” said NHA Interim Chief Executive Officer Roberta Roberts during the meet-and-greet.
The $4.6 million facility was completed in March 2016 and was funded through NAHASDA with leveraged funds provided by the Navajo Nation Abandoned Mine Lands Program.
The tour then proceeded to the home of Mary Azye located 1-mile east of Fort Defiance, Arizona. Azye is a recent recipient of a home provided through the Southwest Indian Foundation (SWIF). SWIF has been dedicated to help provide homes on the Navajo Nation through a unique partnership between SWIF, NHA, the Department of Defense, and the US Air Force Academy.
Through this partnership SWIF builds and donates 10-15 homes to low-income families on the Navajo Nation each year. SWIF provides funding for labor and capital expenditures such as heavy equipment, the Department of Defense Reserves IRT Program provides labor support, the US Air Force Academy provides labor and design, and the NHA provides NAHASDA funds for building materials and infrastructure.
“It’s been a very fruitful partnership,” said SWIF Deputy Executive Director Jeremy Boucher. “We’ve built almost 250 homes in 16 years with this partnership.”
The Congressman was given an opportunity to tour the home of Mary Azye and then addressed the NHA and SWIF staff on the reauthorization of NAHASDA. The Congressman also took the opportunity to thank the NHA and SWIF staff for their hard work to effectively expend NAHASDA funds and encouraged staff to continue to work hard in providing housing for the Navajo people.
NHA Board Chairman Kris Beecher was grateful for the time spent with the Congressman and spoke on behalf of the NHA Board of Commissioners. “Thank you for your hard work Congressman,” Beecher said. “Native American housing is an issue that doesn’t fall on either party line and I’d like to thank you for advocating for the Navajo people and tribes across Indian country.”
“From the local Chapter governments to the Federal Government, we are a team and all play a role working on housing projects that benefit the Navajo people,” Beecher added. “Together we can grow our communities in a responsible way, and with the help of strong advocates at the federal and state level we will continue to build homes like these and others to meet the housing needs of the Navajo Nation.”
Lastly, speaking on behalf of the Azye family was Mona Waquiu daughter to Mary Ayze. “We are very thankful and blessed that you all could get my mom to where she (Mary Ayze) is today,” said Waquiu. “We shared a lot of tears when it was her (Mary Ayze) time to move in last week.”
“Congressman Pearce thank you for coming here, keep pushing for us and the rest of the Native Americans,” Waquiu added. “You don’t see that very often as far as other people fighting and get funding for us and its not just only Navajo Nation but other Native American tribes in New Mexico that do need housing.”
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