WINDOW ROCK, Ariz. – On Friday, Aug. 5, the Resources and Development Committee approved by a vote of 3-2 the Legislation 232-16, which was introduced by Council Delegate Jonathan Hale (Oak Sprints/St. Michaels).

Below is a statement from Aneva J. Yazzie, Navajo Housing Authority (NHA) Chief Executive Officer:

“Legislation 232-16 proposes to remove the Navajo Housing Authority (NHA) as the Tribally Designated Housing Entity (TDHE) and make the Community Housing and Infrastructure Department (CHID) within the Navajo Nation’s Division of Community Development responsible for administering the Native American Housing Assistance and Self Determination Act (NAHASDA) program.  Through this legislation the Navajo Nation Council proposes to assume and assert more direct authority and control over the NAHASDA funds and all related federal program oversight and its compliance requirements.

Housing development on the Navajo Nation is difficult, and I believe the Navajo Nation Council leadership shares with NHA the frustration of providing housing for our people with the limited resources we have available. However, the legislation being proposed will not solve the current situation and will likely have several dire unintended consequences. Should the legislation be passed NHA will immediately have to shut its doors, stop paying contractors, lay-off its nearly 400 employees and completely halt all current construction projects.

This would have an immense impact on the local economy, on Navajo families relying on the paycheck of those NHA employees, and would place millions of dollars of construction work in jeopardy.

During the Resource and Development Committee’s (RDC) deliberation of the legislation, they inquired whether CHID had a plan to take-over the TDHE and no plan was ready or offered. This is like placing the cart before the horse—without a solid plan the CHID has not considered how it will develop budget accounts, how NHA employee benefits will be reconciled, how current construction projects will continue—there is simply no pragmatic way for the TDHE status to be immediately transferred to CHID right now. Furthermore, the timing for such significant change will also adversely impact the pending HUD litigation, changeover of HUD oversight agencies, NAHASDA reauthorization and 2017 appropriation funding decisions, and for Navajo Nation that could prove detrimental as it would demonstrate instability in our government.

NHA is calling upon our leadership for a voice of reason. We all have acknowledged that any development on Navajo land is difficult and we should be working together to overcome those obstacles. I would welcome and challenge the Navajo Nation leadership to work together towards solutions instead of taking approaches that leave our nation in a dire situation that would have lasting detrimental impacts to all of our Navajo families. These impacts will reverberate throughout our communities.

In the next few weeks I welcome a quality discussion on these issues and for us to work together towards unified solutions.

Legislation 232-16 was previously reviewed and passed by the Law and Order Committee on July 25th by a vote of 4-0. The legislation next goes to the Nabik’ iyatii’ Committee. The Navajo Nation Council has the final vote with final approval, and with veto authority left to Navajo Nation President Russell Begaye.

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