WINDOW ROCK, Ariz. – The following is a statement from Navajo Housing Authority (NHA) Board Chairman, Ervin Chavez, in response to a public hearing held on Wednesday, December 21, 2016 at the Navajo Nation Museum in Window Rock, Ariz.

“In response to a directive by the Navajo Nation Tribal Council, the Office of the Speaker held a public hearing on Dec. 21 to hear from tribal members and residents whether the Tribally Designated Housing Entity (TDHE) status should be taken from the NHA and transferred to the Navajo Nation’s Community Housing and Infrastructure Department (CHID).

Current and past residents as well as applicants voiced their concerns about housing services and programs provided by NHA. NHA staff and its consultants were also in attendance at the hearing.

NHA is committed to addressing the housing services and issues expressed at the hearing. In fact, we (NHA) address tenant issues and concerns on a daily basis.

Throughout the hearing, commenters expressed concerns regarding the ability of Nation’s Community Housing department to oversee the Housing Authority, noting that the Nation still has no formal plan to take over services and programs currently provided by NHA and that the Nation’s history in managing and operating federal programs is cause for concern. Further comments call attention to the department’s (CHID) lack of infrastructure and ability to manage the programs.

Commenters also expressed concern in the way that leadership continues to attack NHA instead of supporting NHA. Commenters also wanted leadership and NHA to work together to find solutions and pointed out that there seems to be undue influence from outside sources (press, other interests) that leadership is considering rather than taking an unbiased approach to reform.

NHA believes strongly that the leadership should not mistake resident concerns, regarding repairs and maintenance, with the original and only purpose of the hearing which was to address Legislation No. 0232-16, the transfer of NHA programs to the Navajo Nation.

In our view, the hearing would have been more effective if there was a moderator to remind the commenters of the purpose of the hearing.

In all, many commenters implied that the legislation was developed in haste and they were against the transfer, and expressed that the Council should work together with NHA to solve the current issues instead of trying to overtake the agency. NHA wholeheartedly supports that view and hopes the Tribal Council will work with us to resolve any concerns and keep the NHA as an independently operated enterprise.”

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BACKGROUND: On November 17, 2016, the Navajo Nation Tribal Council issued a directive to the Office of the Speaker to hold a public hearing to receive comments on the proposed Legislation No. 0232-16, which would transfer the “tribally designated housing entity (TDHE)” designation from the Navajo Housing Authority (NHA) to the Navajo Nation’s Division of Community Development’s Community Housing and Infrastructure Department.