WINDOW ROCK, Ariz. – The Navajo Housing Authority (NHA) issued the following response to the Navajo Nation Council’s passage of emergency legislation impacting the NHA Board of Commissioners:
“We are deeply disappointed in our tribal leadership and their failure to recognize the work that NHA has done to support the Navajo Nation,” said Ervin Chavez, chair of the Board of Commissioners. “We serve thousands of Navajo families, including the families of our Tribal Council, and it is a shame that politics, rather than common sense, has driven this effort from the Council. We care deeply about our tribal members and will continue to serve the Navajo people, and we hope in the future to engage in more constructive dialogue with the Council.”
The Navajo Nation Office of the President and Vice President issued a letter on April 13 calling for the resignation and/or replacement of the Board of Commissioners for NHA. With no direct communications with or outreach to NHA commissioners or staff, the Navajo Nation Council yesterday took action to immediately replace the NHA Board of Commissioners, enacting legislation that was previously approved in January and originally required a 120-day waiting period. The legislation decreases the number of commissioners from eight to five and includes requirements for commissioners to serve.
“There is much to be done on Navajo,” said Chavez. “Recent studies show that we need at least 34,000 new homes to even come close to providing for everyone that needs it. Our elders, our veterans, families with children; there are many who benefit from NHA. NHA has made significant reforms to enhance internal controls and accountability mechanisms in order to better serve the Navajo people, and has decreased the federal NAHASDA funds balance by half, spending an average of $142 million per year since 2012. The NHA staff is committed to continuing its work and serving the Navajo Nation.”
NHA is the largest Indian housing authority in the US, with 365 employees in 15 field offices across three states, providing housing programs and services to more than 9,000 families. Since 2012, NHA has built more than 500 new housing units and modernized nearly 900 existing units, including 119 new units constructed and 50 units modernized in the past year alone. NHA has also built a daycare center, a youth center and a senior independent living center as well as providing new home ownership and veterans housing programs.
“We have continually tried to communicate and engage in discussion with the council,” added Chavez. “Though council delegates have in the past expressed concern, there has been nothing to indicate that there would be a call for the immediate resignation of commissioners. We have always had an open door policy and our council delegates are welcome at any time to share information with our staff. We understand that the Office of the President and Vice President has requested an audit by the Navajo Nation’s Auditor General, and we look forward to cooperating and collaborating with them to share the facts and our story.”