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WINDOW ROCK, Ariz. – The following is a statement by the Navajo Housing Authority regarding the Navajo Times reprint of a July 2, 2015 article entitled, ‘Senate bill would slice Navajo’s share of housing pie’ which was printed in today’s issue of the Navajo Times.

“The Navajo Housing Authority (NHA) is concerned with a Navajo Times story entitled, “Senate bill would slice Navajo’s share of housing pie.” It seems that this same story ran in the July 2, 2015, edition of the Navajo Times. While NHA appreciates the Navajo Times attention to covering important subjects related to the congressional appropriations for Navajo’s allocation of Indian Housing Block Grant Funds, we are concerned when outdated stories are reprinted because it may mislead the public on the current events and situation regarding the issue.”

In NHA’s 2016 1st Quarter Newsletter, which was inserted into the Feb. 4, 2016 edition of the Navajo Times, NHA provides the most recent updates regarding the Navajo Nation’s Indian Housing Block Grant Funds.

[NHA 1st Quarter Newsletter – ‘NHA meets 2016 Appropriations Undisbursed Funds Language (3x language) deadline’

“NHA continuously monitors all congressional actions that may potential impact the level of federal housing funding allocated to the Navajo Nation,” said Mellor Willie, NHA Advisor on Government Affairs. “Unfortunately, in December the Congress pass the full-year 2016 omnibus funding bill that contained language targeted at addressing unspent Indian Housing Block Grant Funds—and more specifically, the Navajo Housing Authority. However, we knew back in June 2015 that this language could potentially pass Congress and therefore NHA leadership was prepared to ensure that the organization would bring down it’s unspent funds balance so that there was little to no impact.”

The language in question is known as the Three-Times Language (3X) and aims to withhold funds from a tribe’s future Indian Housing Block Grant allocation amount if that tribe’s current balance is not below three-time its current allocation. The language took effect on Jan. 1, 2016.

“We will not know NHA’s final IHBG allocation for fiscal 2016 until March of this year and this is what makes it difficult to know exactly if NHA will be impacted by the three-times language,” said Aneva J. Yazzie, NHA Chief Executive Officer. “However, we have taken precautionary measure to ensure that NHA’s IHBG fund balance is much lower than three times the projected IHBG allocation for fiscal 2016. We are pretty confident that NHA will have little to no impact by the language—which is a good sign for us.”

HUD’s estimated that NHA’s IHBG allocation for fiscal 2016 is approximately $87 million (see table below). Three times that estimate allocation amount ($87M x 3) is roughly $262 million. Based on the estimates the NHA’s IHBG fund balance would need to be below this amount to not be affected by the language within the fiscal 2016 Omnibus Funding Bill.

The NHA was already on a progressive 5-year expenditure plan but the new deadline of Jan. 1, 2016 created urgency to expend within the organization.
The NHA was successful in bringing its undisbursed IHBG funds below the threshold of $262 million. On Dec, 31, 2015 the NHA reported that it had $254 million bringing the organizations funding level to fall below the three times language level thus it is highly unlikely to be affected by the bills harmful language.]

The NHA has requested the Navajo Times to correct the error and to feature an updated story regarding the fiscal year 2016 appropriations for the Indian Housing Block Grant where NHA could share the most updated information.

 

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