WINDOW ROCK, Ariz.– On Nov. 1, the Navajo Housing Authority hosted a groundbreaking ceremony for a 60-unit multi-family apartment complex and a multi-purpose facility to be built in Window Rock, Ariz. Plans for the new development would also include a laundry mat and multi-functional rooms to accommodate community and family functions. A crowd composing of 50 community members, NHA officials and dignitaries gathered at the project site located directly North of the Window Rock Post Office.
“NHA is looking to serve all underserved groups on the Nation, regardless of income,” said NHA CEO Craig Dougall. “In order to support economic growth and development of the Nation, NHA is contributing by providing housing options to the workforce closer to their place of employment.”
The project is estimated to have a construction budget of $12-15 million and will plan to utilize various mixed funding sources to accommodate a variety of income levels. A certain percentage of units will utilize NAHASDA funds and will be available for low income families while another percentage of units will conceivably be funded by Low Income Tax Credit or other non-NAHASDA funding sources, making those units available to mid-to-high income tenants Dougall explained
“There is a great need for housing on the Navajo Nation and NAHASDA alone will not meet that need,” Dougall said. “In order to meet that need we will need to embrace the concept of mixed income financing so that we can bring to life similar projects like this throughout the Navajo Nation,” Dougall added. “Housing is economic development and we are looking to partner with other entities to boost new development in the near future.”
Dwayne Waseta, NHA Chief Operations Officer was present and provided an overview of the project. “The project that we have here is the fruit of our labors that started a year and a half ago with a round table discussion with leadership and NHA management,” said Waseta. “The project here is in the first stages of selecting a developer who will start doing the planning for the development area to see what we can actually develop.”
“We expect the actual conceptual design to be completed by December or early January, next year,” said Waseta.
Edward K. Dee is a member of the Navajo Nation and is employed in Window Rock as the Director of the Office of Navajo Government Development. He was invited to the groundbreaking to talk about his personal experiences as they relate to the need of tribal housing here on the Navajo Nation.
Dee describes his daily commute of 128 miles from Chilchinbito, Arizona to Window Rock, Arizona as unsustainable and tiresome especially during the winter months. On one occasion Dee’s supervisor advised him to stay in the office because the wintery road conditions were unsafe to drive such a long distance.
Other speakers included Elmer Begay, executive staff assistance for the Navajo Nation Office of the President and Vice-President. Begay’s message centered on the need of homes to be built on the reservation. It’s going to take land, leadership, community and government to work with the people and NHA Begay explained.
Navajo Nation Council Delegate Raymond Smith, Jr. was also in attendance and congratulated the NHA for their vision. Smith also looked forward to other future developments around the Navajo Nation and expressed that it would help in stimulating economic development of those areas.