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IMPROVING HOUSING OPPORTUNITIES
FOR NATIVE AMERICANS
Monday, May 3, 2004
U.S. House of Representatives,
Subcommittee on Housing and
Committee on Financial Services,
The subcommittee met, pursuant to call, at 12:00 p.m., at the Greyhills Academy High School Auditorium, Tuba City, Arizona, Hon. Robert W. Ney presiding.
Present: Representatives Renzi and Waters.
Also Present: Representative Matheson.
Chairman NEY. The subcommittee will come to order.
I wanted to explain the process a little bit before we start and make an opening statement and then we will have other members make opening statements.
But the Financial Services Committee of the U.S. House is chaired by Mike Oxley of Ohio, and the ranking member is Barney Frank of Massachusetts, and we have the Subcommittee on Housing and Community Opportunity, which is what this subcommittee is of the U.S. House.
My name is Bob Ney. I'm the chairman of the subcommittee. I'm from the State of Ohio. We also have our ranking member to my right, Maxine Waters of California. To my left, everybody knows Congressman Renzi of Arizona. And I assume that applause is for all three of us right now. To my extreme right, Congressman Matheson of Utah. You can applaud for him, too.
Page 2 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC This is an official hearing of the U.S. House of Representatives subcommittee. We have a timer, and we basically run the timer. It makes a beep, I think. We will give you a little tap here. That doesn't mean we are going to cut you off right at that spot in the middle of your sentence, but we keep it to five minutes of testimony from each witness. And I think we have 16 witnesses today, so we are going to try to hold it to five minutes and then the members up here will have five minutes to ask questions. But, again, if you are in the middle of your statement, feel free to complete it. But that way, if we hold you to the five minutes, that will give us time.
And anything you want to submit for the record, we will do that without objection. And you can submit the rest of your testimony for the record. So, without objection, all of the opening statements will be made part of the record of the U.S. House.
I also wanted to tell you the Subcommittee on Housing last yearand I want to praise our ranking member, Maxine Waters of California, and the rest of the members frankly, that couldn't be here todaywe passed approximately 11 housing bills that actually went on to be signed into law. And that was done, and I'm very proud of our roll call vote in the subcommittee. It doesn't mean we didn't have our differences or didn't speak our peace on things, but the subcommittee, I think, acted on a bipartisan basis. And I wanted to commend our ranking member, Maxine Waters, and members of the committee who really tried in a diligent way to do something about housing. Sixty some percent of Americans have housing. The minority rate is 50 percent. That is unacceptable, and we have taken some steps, there are a lot more steps to be taken, so everybody can share in the American dream.
I do want to tell you how this particular subcommittee hearing came about. It happened about 2:00 o'clock in the morning. We were having one of those late night votes, and Congressman RenziI will let him tell you the story when he makes his own statement, but he came to me and he had seen some very, very deplorable conditions when it came to housing. The housing subcommittee also oversees Indian housing, so Congressman Renzi asked the question of myself, which we said yes to, and with the cooperation of our ranking member, Maxine Waters, we are here today along with our colleague, Congressman Matheson, who is concerned about this issue.
Page 3 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC When Congressman Renzi asked for this hearing, we started to research backthis is Tallman Johnson of our staff, and also Cindy Chetti is here in the back, and I know Congresswoman Waters will introduce the staff that's here for the minority. But we researched back, and there had never been a hearing on Indian land in the history of the United States by a housing subcommittee. So this is the first time in the history of the United States that there is a hearing. I want to thank Congressman Renzi for making that possible. I guess I could say it's long overdue.
So it's a historic day for our Subcommittee on Housing and Community Opportunity, and as chairman, it's my honor to preside over today's proceedings which, again, is the first time this subcommittee has ever held in the history of the United States a hearing on tribal land.
Presently, the Native American population is estimated at 2.5 million. While the national poverty rate is 12 percent, the rate among Native Americans is more than twice as high. Forty-five percent of all Native American households are located on tribal lands, and housing is one of the most pressing issues for Native Americans living on tribal lands.
Over 32.5 percent of the homes located on tribal lands are overcrowded; 7.5 percent of the Native American homes lack safe water or sewage systems; less than 50 percent of the homes on reservations are connected to public sewer systems, and 16.5 percent of homes on native lands are completely without any form of indoor plumbing. About 40 percent of tribal homes are considered substandard compared to a national average of six percent.
Native Americans today are experiencing chronic housing affordability problems. Approximately half of the Native American households in tribal areas pay over 30 percent of their income for housing expenses compared to the 23 percent of all U.S. residents who pay more than 30 percent of their income for their housing expenses. Much of this is due to the unique relationships, I believe, that Indian tribes have with the U.S. Government. Native Americans while residing on reservations are U.S. Citizens, but their tribes are recognized as domestic sovereign nations with treaty relationships with the U.S. Government. The fact that the Bureau of Indian Affairs, BIA, holds much of the land in trust means that tribes are allowed only limited sovereignty over their lands. This special relationship limits the types of economic activity for which Indian lands may be used, and I'm hoping today this hearing will be the step to try to bridge that so that more things will be able to happen.
Page 4 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC One of the most important cornerstones to a strong community is homeownership. It creates stability and serves as a strong economic staple in our overall U.S. economy. While the national homeownership rate has steadily risen and is at an all-time high of over 68 percent, there are sectors of the population for whom homeownership remains unattainable. In fact, the homeownership rate for Native Americans is well below 50 percent. Clearly, more can and should be done to help all families realize the dream of owning a home.
The changing land status issues, diversity of tribal laws and governments, lack of mortgage information and credit issues all contribute to the challenges in mortgage lending in Indian country. Developmental programs delivered to Indian lands should be highly flexible and adaptive to the very unique and specific circumstances in each tribal setting. Native Americans must be able to take full advantage of partnerships and partnering and leveraging efforts across institutions and at all levels of our government and through all agencies where it's available. If we begin to succeed at these initiatives, then opportunities will move into these rural areas.
As we work to help strengthen homeownership opportunities in Indian country, together we will continue to play a significant role in improving the quality of life for all families.
And with that, I will yield to our ranking member, Ms. Waters.
[The prepared statement of Hon. Robert W. Ney can be found on page 78 in the appendix.]
Ms. WATERS. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.
I would first like to thank you for responding to Congressman Renzi and Congressman Matheson, recognizing the need for such a hearing and getting it done. I have enjoyed working with you. I think that you have shown your concern for poor people and people of color and others who do not enjoy homeownership to the same degree that our majority of the population enjoys, and I'm very pleased that I have an opportunity to participate in this hearing today.
Page 5 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC I'm very pleased to be here in Tuba City to participate in the first hearing on Native American housing issues ever held on Navajo land. And, again, Mr. Chairman, it's because of you and Congressman Renzi and Congress Matheson that we are here. I would like to thank both of our staffs for the wonderful work that has been done in putting this visit together.
The tour that we were on this morning was awfully revealing, and I wish every member of Congress could see what we saw today. A special thanks to our staffers, Jeff Riley, who is our counsel; and Jaime Alisiga, who is our parliamentarian, along with the other staff members and all who have helped to work to put this tour together and this hearing together.
I am very concerned about the many barriers that Native Americans face when they seek to pursue homeownership. Whether it stems from Native American poverty or the heavy hand of bureaucracy at the Bureau of Indian Affairs when prospective homeowners seek BIA approvals, we cannot accept a process that produces so many fewer opportunities for Native Americans to own their homes and thereby build wealth than for others who live in America.
While I know that you sought the BIA's appearance at this hearing, Mr. Chairman, I'm disappointed that the Bureau of Indian Affairs is not represented on one of the panels today. This government agency, more than any other, needs to step up to the plate and work together with the tribes, HUD, RHS and the secondary market to formulate solutions to the housing problem on Native American lands.
While I am glad that we are discussing the significant housing challenges faced by Native Americans, I'm hopeful that we can all work together, the Congress, the administration, can work together to increase appropriations for assistive housing programs. And we all, I think, because of what we are learning, can take another look at any proposed budget cuts for the year 2005. I just think that the more we know, the less we can accept budget cuts.
I look forward to the insights of our witnesses, especially our tribal witnesses, as to how we can develop solutions that meet your needs for housing and homeownership opportunity while respecting your culture and your sovereignty.
Page 6 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. Chairman, when land was taken from Native American tribes, the United States gave its solemn promise to protect the rights of the tribes to govern themselves and to provide for the health, education, and well-being of tribes. That commitment, the trust responsibility, is not a handout but a contract, a contract that unfortunately has been broken time and time again by our own government.
I believe that an essential element of the federal government's trust responsibility is that it must take the steps necessary to make homeownership opportunities as available to the members of tribes as they are to the rest of America's population. With a Native American homeownership rate of only about 33 percent as compared to an overall homeownership rate approaching somewhere around 68 percent, it's clear that much work will need to be done.
The Native American population is one of the fastest growing groups in the United States. Unfortunately, it is also one of the poorest segments. According to the U.S. Census Current Population Survey, the poverty rate of Native Americans in the late 1990s was about 26 percent while the national average was 12 percent. By any calculation, the increases in population are creating housing needs which continue to far outpace the funding that we are providing.
While land and home are viewed as central to family life in the Navajo culture, the housing problems of the Navajo Nation are nonetheless particularly severe. The Navajo Nation is the largest reservation in the country. It covers over 16 million acres in three states. It is the size of West Virginia. There are 255,543 enrolled members of the tribe with about 180,000 living on tribal land. The median age, we understand, is about 22.5 years.
According to the 2000-2001 Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy Report from the Native Nation Office on Economic Development, 56.1 percent of Navajo people live below the poverty level, the per capital income is only about $6,212, and the unemployment rate is about 43.65 percent. Some 31 percent of the homes on the reservation lack complete plumbing, 60 percent lack telephone service, and about one-fifth of owner-occupied units on the reservation are mobile homes. The development of housing on the Navajo Nation is even more complicated than it is on other reservations, as 94 percent of Navajo land is tribal trust land, the most difficult type of land to develop.
Page 7 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. Chairman, strong communities are built one home at a time. To strengthen reservation communities, we must provide safe, decent, affordable housing for all families living in them. Today, approximately 40 percent of all reservation housing is inadequate. Twenty percent do not have plumbing.
Mr. Chairman, the unmet housing needs in Indian country are simply enormous. HUD at one point estimated that current NAHASDA funding levels would only meet five percent of Native Americans' needs for housing. Without going much further, when we talk about NAHASDA funding or some of the proposed cuts, because of what we know and what we are learning, I think we are going to have to all work together to review any proposed cuts and, again, get the administration together with the Congress of the United States and do the right thing, just do what we need to do.
In closing, let me say to Congressman Renzi that your guidance on the tour this morning was absolutely fascinating and certainly appreciated. You know your district and you certainly understand these concerns, and I'm very appreciative for the time that you took to put this meeting together and the statistics, this data, that was gathered for me by my staff. I want to thank you, and Congressman Matheson, I want to thank you for working together with us. Mr. Renzi as you address these very complicated and tremendous problems that you're confronted with.
Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.
[The prepared statement of Hon. Maxine Waters can be found on page 84 in the appendix.]
Chairman NEY. Thank you.
I also want to note, I, too, am disappointed the BIA is not here, and we will talk at a follow-up hearing, also. Since this is the first-ever hearing, I would prefer they be here on Indian tribal land, but we will follow up with them, also, in Washington.
The gentleman from Arizona, Mr. Renzi.
Page 8 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. RENZI. Thank you very much.
Let me begin by thanking Chairman Ney, Ranking Member Waters, and our neighbor to the north, Congressman Matheson of Utah, for traveling this far, for taking the time. I also want to recognize the leaders of the Coconino County board of directors. Deb Hill is here. We have council delegates from the Navajo Nation, from the Apache Nation, from the Hopi Nation, our leaders, our chairmen, our presidents are here, which we will introduce them a little bit later. I thank all of you for finally coming together and helping me and working with us to pull off this field hearing which, as we have heard, is historic. It's long overdue.
I represent more Native Americans than anyone else in Congress. I've told President Shirley on many occasions it's hard for me to go home to Washington, to go home to my ranch, and call myself a congressman after I've been to Kaibito and seen the deplorable conditions up there. The first time I went up there, I saw six children living in a mud hut with their grandmother raising them, and they had dysentery. And, so, to be able to sit with myself and look at myself in my own mirror, I have toand be a representative, I'm so very thankful for Chairman Ney who, when I went back to Washington after seeing that, on the floor at 2:00 o'clock in the morning, he committed that he would come out here and have this hearing this morning.
So, Chairman Ney, thank you for coming all the way out from Ohio and bringing a full-blown Congressional hearing to the Navajo Nation to address this issue. My district is over 60,000 square miles, larger than the State of Illinois. Our Speaker of the House is from Illinois, and I have a tendency to tell him my district is bigger than your State, I need more money, I need more help.
And it's my privilege to represent the Navajo. There are Hopi members within this district, the Zuni, the San Juan Paiute, the Tonto Apache, Yavapai Prescott tribe, the San Carlos and White Mountain Apache tribe. Strong, wonderful people who give and serve this nation and who deserve the very best, and they deserve our government to meet their treaty obligations. This is why we are here today.
Page 9 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Home ownership in America is many times referred to as an American dream, but how much of a reality is that dream here on nativein Indian country? We are learning that homeownership has a beneficial effect. Obviously, it helps marriages; obviously, it helps reduce crimes and helps with law enforcement in communities. But have you ever heard that there are studies that now show that math achievement and reading recognition scores are seven percent higher among young children and graduation rates are 13 percent higher among families who own their own home? Who would have thought that the fruits of homeownership actually go all the way down to test scores.
In addition, families can build equity in their homes. It allows them to borrow against the equity to get their kids to go to college, to be able to borrow against their homes and form their own small businesses. I'm able to become a U.S. Congressman because I borrowed a second mortgage on a home in Sierra Vista, Arizona, built a little insurance agency and then was able to go to law school and then run for Congress. And yet, unfortunately, homeownership among Native American families is less than one-third. So one out of three Native American families actually own their own home.
And as we saw today, and as Ranking Member Waters pointed out, we saw children living in nothing more than wooden shacks without electricity, without modern sanitation and without pure water. We met a woman today whose water well is contaminated by oil. And so these are chronic problems where health officials are recognizing that these conditions are contributing to physical and mental defects in our children, and in particular in these areas.
In the first district of Arizona, we also have the problem with the Bennett Freeze. This is an area of 1.3 million acres in size which, due to conflicting claims, the federal government in 1966 imposed a ban on further construction. We have seriously never addressed the adverse conditions which are imposed by this wrong policy.
Now, I've got to give it to Chairman Taylor and the Honorable President Joe Shirley, because these two people are working together to seriously address the issue of the Bennett Freeze and we are coming very close to an agreement and a compact.
Page 10 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Finally, it is my hope that this first hearing will not only shed light on the issue, but out of it will come direct objectives and missions. We will have results, not just words, to talk about. I am going to follow up with a workshop. I'm going to ask Chairwoman Kathy Kitcheyen of the San Carlos Apache to host it. We will have a workshop. We will bring in private industry, the banking, financing, the credit people will come in and begin to address the ideas of how this first generation of Native American people can break through the impediments to homeownership, whether it be putting more counselors on the Navajo or the Hopi or the Apache Nations, so that the young people can enjoy homeownership, so the application process itself doesn't become a wall or an impediment to homeownership. So I'm looking forward to following up and asking your leadership with that workshop.
Mr. Chairman, if I have your permission, I would like to introduce a guest that we have. With us today is Mr. Eddie Cody of the Navajo Nation. He is a recent recipient of USDA home repair funds. Mr. Cody needed an addition to his home and we were able to help him through the USDA 504 Home Ownership Repair Program.
One of the things that's so important, real quick, about these programs is the Navajo people, the Hopi people, the Apache people don't want to send their elders down to Phoenix to nursing homes. And having the ability to add on additions to their homes allows them to bring the elders in for respite care and elder care in their homes rather than shipping them off to a nursing home. With this kind of a program we are able to fund additions onto the homes and reach out to our elders in our community.
So, with that, I want to thank the people of northern Arizona, particularly those who have taken their time away from their families to come here today.
Mr. Chairman, I yield back. Thank you.
Is Mr. Cody with us in the audience? Mr. Cody, thank you.
[The prepared statement of Hon. Rick Renzi can be found on page 83 in the appendix.]
Page 11 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Chairman NEY. Thank you.
Congressman Matheson from Utah, who borders the entire state of Arizona, and who spent time with Congressman Renzi today sharing their concern, and also some of the groups. Obviously, that border between the two states doesn't exist when it comes to Indian affairs.
Mr. MATHESON. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. Thanks for holding this hearing. I want to extend my thanks to you. I'm also really glad to join you and Ranking Member Waters and Congressman Renzi today.
This hearing is, as Congressman Renzi suggested, probably long overdue and I'm pleased we're here. Thank you for your leadership in making this happen. I really look forward to hearing testimony today from this distinguished group of witnesses.
I would especially like to, before I start with my statement, welcome my constituent, Mr. Mark Maryboy, delegate from Utah on the Navajo Nation Council. I believe we will hear from him on the third panel.
Many Native Americans continue to live in appalling housing conditions, and this is taking place at the same time while much of our nation is improving in this regard. Now, the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs has released a report that shows American Indian and Alaska Native populations live in housing that is often and justifiably compared to third world nations. One out of every five Indian homes lacks complete plumbing facilities and over 90,000 American Indians and Alaska Natives are homeless or underhoused.
I have had the opportunity to see firsthand the need for housing in Indian country when I visited the Utah portion of the Navajo Nation, which I represent in Congress, and also the tour we took this morning through parts of Arizona. I have met with families and individuals who have expressed their frustration with the process of building and owning a home on tribal lands. My constituents have raised a number of challenges to homeownership, including duplicative tribal and federal bureaucracy of obtaining homesite lease, trust status of tribal lands, lack of basic electrical and water delivery systems, lack of roads, lack of federal funding, and the difficulties these individuals face in trying to obtain conventional mortgages.
Page 12 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC During my time on the Navajo Nation, I have had the opportunity to become acquainted with one particular grassroots non-profit organization, Indigenous Community Enterprises. I have seen their approach to addressing the housing needs of the often-forgotten Navajo elders. Utilizing a NAHASDA subgrant and local resources, including, in the case of one I visited in Utah, the Monument Valley High School vocational students and Utah Navajo Trust Fund financial support, ICE constructed an elder hogan home that will be traditionally blessed this Friday, May 7th. The ICE elder hogan home incorporates the traditional octagon hogan in its design. The design respects the traditional space but adds the basic amenities of a modern kitchen and bathroom.
ICE employs a community-based approach of personal responsibility and capacity building to build hogan homes. Collaborating with local high schools, Navajo Nation entities, banks and community and family members, ICE seeks to address the underlying problems to homeownership on the Navajo reservation by not only construction of a hogan home but by offering financial literacy, Individual Development Account savings programs, homeownership skills and credit counseling. Additionally, ICE uses small diameter timber from the regional forest thinning and is moving towards using straw bale products that can be manufactured from the Navajo Agriculture Products Industry.
Innovative ways to provide homes, the use of local resources, and ensuring that individuals have the necessary financial knowledge and skills can make homeownership a reality in Indian country. We can no longer look toward any government to simply provide homes. It will require innovative, collaborative efforts such as this to address the housing needs that I witnessed on the Navajo Nation. It will also require a deeper understanding of all parties involved of the true obstacles to adequate housing, be they a lack of infrastructure, supply, mortgage products, or incentives to build.
Again, Mr. Chairman, thank you for holding this important hearing today. I look forward to hearing from each panel to better my understanding of the issues that the federal government, tribal governments, housing entities and financial institutions face in addressing the housing shortage in Indian country. I look forward to hearing their recommendations for improving housing opportunities for Native Americans and I look forward to working with my colleagues to implement any necessary legislative solutions. Thank you very much.
Page 13 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC [The prepared statement of Hon. Jim Matheson can be found on page 80 in the appendix.]
Chairman NEY. Thank you. I want to thank all the members for their testimony. And as far as the panel of witnesses, without objection, their written statements will be made part of the record and their five minutes will begin.
Let me introduce the panel and then we will get right to the testimony. First member of the panel is Kathy Kitcheyen, and she is the chairwoman of the San Carlos Apache. The San Carlos Apache Indian reservation encompasses more than 1.8 million acres in southeastern Arizona. Welcome.
Dallas Massey, Sr., the tribal chairman of the White Mountain Apache Tribe. Its 12,000 members reside on 1.6 million acres of its ancestral homeland on the Fort Apache Indian reservation about 200 miles northeast of Phoenix. Welcome to you.
And Joe Shirley, Jr. is the sixth President of the Navajo Nation. The nation has approximately 225,000 members and a land base of 7.5 million acres across New Mexico, Arizona and Utah. Welcome, President Shirley.
And Chief Chadwick Smith is the principal Chief of the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma, based in Tahlequah. Am I close.
Mr. SMITH. Close. Tahlequah.
Chairman NEY. Tahlequah, Oklahoma. Welcome, Chief.
And Wayne Taylor, Jr. Is the chairman of the Hopi Tribe. The Hopi reservation covers 1.5 million acres in northeastern Arizona and is bound on all sides by the Navajo reservation. Welcome, Chairman Taylor.
We will start with Chairwoman Kitcheyen.
STATEMENT OF KATHLEEN KITCHEYEN, CHAIRWOMAN, SAN CARLOS APACHE
Page 14 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Ms. KITCHEYEN. Good afternoon, Chairman Ney, Ranking Member Waters. You better reset that because I think I lost 30 seconds.
Chairman NEY. That's right. You speak up.
Ms. KITCHEYEN. Good afternoon, Mr. Ney, Chairman; Miss Waters, Ranking Member; Mr. Matheson from Utah, and also our very own Rick Renzi, who has a very passion about his work. And we thank you for coming and being able to organize this, Mr. Renzi. Thank you very much.
As you've just heard, my name is Kathy Kitcheyen. I'm the chairwoman of the San Carlos Apache Tribe based in San Carlos, Arizona. I am very honored to be here to testify today.
As you've already mentioned, it's an historic occasion. It's been a long time coming. We have been dealing with the United States government for over 500 years and never have we seen people of your caliber come out to our part of the country.
So I thank you very much for your compassion, for your humility, and for your courage. Thank you. Today, I am joined by Robert Olivar, who is on the council and is the chairman of our housing authority. And also there is a delegation, Ronald Boni, who is executive director of housing; Opal Kees, staff person; Chuck Hills, staff person; and also Debbie Ho as well.
Also in thewell, before I begin, again, I would like to thank you for addressing the needs of housing in Indian country. What you saw today is probably what you see on other Indian reservations as well. We appreciate the dedication that you have to this serious issue. I'm sure it's not easy being far away from Washington D.C. And all the Starbucks.
To better understand the housing needs of my tribe, it is helpful to know our history. The aboriginal territory of the Apache Nation included the western part of Texas, Arizona, New Mexico, and the country of Mexico as well. Pursuant to the Treaty of Santa Fe of 1852, lands were set aside for a permanent Apache tribal homeland and the United States promised to provide for the humane needs of the Apache people.
Page 15 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC The San Carlos reservation was established in 1871. Through the concentration policies of the United States, various bands of the Apaches were forcibly moved to the San Carlos reservation. Throughout history, the United States diminished the size of the reservation several times due to the discovery of silver, copper, coal, and water. The reservation now spans three Arizona counties: Gila, Graham and Pinal. The reservation currently has a land base of 1.8 million acres. It's mostly rural and lacks basic infrastructure in many parts. The total population is 12,532 members.
A majority of our members live on the reservation, 84 percent of them. While we have worked hard to develop our reservation economy, there is still a high unemployment rate of 76 percent. We suffer from a poverty level of 77 percent. The tribe has designated the housing authority to operate and administer the tribe's housing program. We have two critical housing needs, a severe housing shortage and severely inadequate utility infrastructure. These inadequacies create unsafe and unsanitary conditions.
This situation is simply unacceptable in this great country of ours. Let me be clear that the San Carlos Apache Tribe supports our troops in Iraq and other parts of the world. The Apaches have many decorated war veterans that have served with distinction. In fact, the San Carlos Housing Authority has an employee named Percy Via, an army reservist, who has worked for them for 20 years. He was called to duty and was part of the first wave of army soldiers to invade Iraq. He just returned home three weeks ago, and we are very proud of him.
However, I wonder about some of the priorities of the United States when Indian communities, my community, the San Carlos Apache reservation, was never built the way it should have been, when our needs were never addressed the way it should have been; why we have overcrowded conditions when there are people, disabled people, living without the proper ramp, without proper facilities in the bathroom.
When I hear about the billions of dollars the United States is spending to rebuild Iraq, homes and infrastructures for them, I wonder why the United States will help them but put the issues of the first Americans aside. I cannot stress enough the dire housing shortage on the reservation. There are approximately 2,400 families on the reservation in need of homes. Thirty-nine percent of families live in substandard housing and 40 percent of families live in overcrowded conditions.
Page 16 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC We have calculated that it would take building 125 homes a year for ten years to meet the housing needs of tribal members. Also, 94 percent of our families are considered low income. Mr. Olivar, the chairman of our housing board, recently stated that he receives at least six visits a day from families who have no place to go and are in desperate need of housing. It is heartbreaking to tell these families that the waiting list is too long and that there are no homes for them. I know other council members meet with families with the same plights as often as Mr. Olivar. I have a couple pictures over here to my right that depict a couple of the homes on the reservation, and there are many more like them.
One area that needs improvement is the environmental review process required for HUD's Indian Housing Block Grants. The tribe is frustrated with the long amount of time that it takes for HUD to approve these environmental reviews. The tribe submitted environmental reviews for two of its housing projects over a year ago and there has been no action taken by HUD. As discussed above, we have tribal members who are homeless or in need of serious rehabilitation. These delays, therefore, take a huge and sometimes irreversible toll on our people. We recommend that HUD be given more resources to handle the huge loads and we also recommend that HUD streamline and expedite the process.
And tied to our housing needs are our utility infrastructure. The tribe's utility infrastructure is sorely inadequate. Without improved infrastructure, it will be difficult to provide decent housing. Specifically, our sewage treatment systems are in such bad shape that they are causing a health risk to nearby communities as well. The hydraulic capacity of our existing sewage treatment facilities have been exceeded by approximately 16 percent. Due to the lack of funds, the existing sewer ponds are filling with too much sludge and the berms have been deteriorated.
In an attempt to address our sewage system problems, the tribe did seek funding from USDA's Rural Housing Service a few years ago. However, the Rural Housing Service did not have enough funding to allow us to fix our sewage system problems.
Page 17 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC The tribe's current water storage facilities are also inadequate. The storage tanks are too small and do not meet the tribe's demand by 24 percent. In order to provide and build more homes, adequate storage and distribution systems need to be installed. Unfortunately, the tribe does not have the funding to upgrade or build the required systems to meet demands. We would certainly appreciate your assistance on these matters.
As a final point, I was in attendance at the signing of an executive order by President Bush related to Indian education of the No Child Left Behind Act last week. Rod Page, Secretary of Education, and Gale Norton, Secretary of Interior, are to spearhead the interagency Indian Education Groups.
The simple fact is that if our children are to be successful, they need adequate housing. And with that, I rest my case. Thank you for the opportunity to testify, and please come again.
Chairman NEY. Thank you very much. I appreciate your testimony.
[The prepared statement of Kathleen Kitchen can be found on page 115 in the appendix.]
Chairman NEY. And next, I introduced him as Chairman Massey, but actually Vice Chairman, Johnny Winfield, filling in for Chairman Massey.
STATEMENT OF JOHNNY WINFIELD, VICE CHAIRMAN, WHITE MOUNTAIN APACHE TRIBE; ACCOMPANIED BY ANEVA YAZZIE, MANAGEMENT CONSULTANT, WHITE MOUNTAIN APACHE HOUSING AUTHORITY
Mr. WINFIELD. Good afternoon. My name is Johnny Winfield. I represent the White Mountain Apache Tribe as the vice chairman. I would like to welcome each and every one of you, the Subcommittee on Housing and Community Development, to the Navajo Nation within the State of Arizona within Indian country.
I'm here on behalf of the White Mountain tribal chairman, Dallas Massey, who is unable to make it due to other commitment, so I'm going to follow through with what he brought to my attention.
Page 18 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC We are knowledgeable of new housing legislation, NAHASDA, that was enacted in 1996. Under that new federal housing program for Native Americans, we had designated our housing authority, the White Mountain Apache Tribal Authority, as a Tribal Designated Housing Entity and we have been very successful in carrying out our effort of housing opportunity for our tribal members. I believe we are at the forefront of tribes across the country to take full advantage of leveraging opportunity with willing financial partners that have opened under this new Indian housing law.
We have accomplished a lot of first ever initiatives, such as:
One, issuing a tax exempt bond in the amount of $25 million to build 250 homes, which has increased to 317 due to a cost savings measure in our construction method. This bond issuance was only possible through the collateralization of HUD's Section 184 loan program on each of the construction mortgage loans executed with our lending institution, Bank One. We call this lending purchase mortgage-based homeownership program Apache Dawn.
Two, since the creation of this housing authority back in 1963, for the first time under the Apache Dawn, we used our own tribal resource for material, Fort Apache Timber Company, Fort Apache Timber Company Home Center, White Mountain Apache Tribe Public Works and contractors utilizing our tribal employees in significant numbers for the construction of homes.
Item three, we were also the first tribe in Arizona to receive a low interest loan to address our infrastructure needs from the Arizona Water Infrastructure Financial Authority, WIFA, in the amount of $5 million. This was a true tri-governmental relationship between our tribes, state and federal agencies. WIFA had to qualify as an approved lender under HUD's Title VI Loan Guarantee Program in order to minimize this risk and make the loan possible for our tribe.
Since the creation of the housing department under the State of Arizona by our own good friend, Janet Napolitano, who is the first governor who has shown a true concern and is proactive in addressing our tribal housing situation in the State of Arizona, we were the first tribe to partner with their office in addressing our badly needed rehab needs for our housing units through both their tax credit and state housing fund programs. We are fortunate to have a very strong state government relationship in all our housing endeavors.
Page 19 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC In addition to these first ever initiatives, the White Mountain Apache Housing Authority has aggressively applied for HUD and other outside grant sources that have enabled a total of over $80 million to be infused into our tribal communities since 1998. This isthis has proved that the new Indian housing law can work for tribes with a capable and committed team on the housing staff, expert consultants combined with strong tribal and community support.
We have also received strong support from both our local and national HUD office. As stated above, we have had a very successful relationship with Phoenix, Denver, and headquarter administration of the Native American Housing Program. The new Indian housing law allows the opportunity to work with other funding agencies to address rehab and/or new construction needs, including costly offsite infrastructure systems.
In working with other agencies, we have encountered several obstacles in our attempt to increase the assistance needed for our tribal members. This includes:
One, partnership with the Federal Home Loan Bank's Affordable Housing Program. We have encountered several program differences for delivery assistance to Native American communities. This includes the unique need to address the trust land issue in the execution of regulatory agreements, the low income threshold requirement under the NAHASDA, unique BIA land issues, and risk issues for future banking relationships.
In partner with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Service's Indian Health Service technical arm, we have encountered one major regulatory prohibition that hinders assistance for tribal members. The tribes are prohibited from obtaining assistance for homes if the homes are receiving assistance from HUD. Since the resources for funding are both federal assistance, IHS statute and program regulation restrictions should be removed to allow its use in a coordinating manner at the local level or reallocate such funds to a national level from IHS to HUD to address infrastructure needs from one federal funding source.
Page 20 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Even through this is a sensitive issue to those tribes that are not obligated to their funds in a timely fashion and possible to be subject to recapture the funds and returned to the U.S. Treasury; rather, a mechanized need to be put in place to reallocate those funds to tribes that have proven track record of effective address of their homes need to be timely manner. While this may not be uniformly addressed, each tribe's respective needs it will be addressed in the overall backlog housing needs for the tribes in aggregate from the Congressional point of view and all funding would still be directed at the address of the vast problem rather than returning to the general fund back to the Treasury, not addressing the housing problem.
A means of stable employment is necessary for tribal members in order to make housing payables. This leads to the need for the economic development for sustaining tribal communities and to become truly self-determined. Therefore, the program regulations should be able to allow economic development as an eligible activity as it relates to affordable homes.
This should not be considered an exhaustive list but are those that we have seen as obstacles and as experienced by the White Mountain Apache Tribal Housing Authority that needs immediate attention by responsible federal officials for the sake of all tribes. We stand ready to address and work cooperatively towards working solutions to enable all tribes to better address and solve their housing need.
We have used the USDA Agriculture Rural Development Program to receive combination grant and loan funding to address our infrastructure needs. These funds are supplemental to NAHASDA and WIFA funds as described above to provide the construction of regional water and wastewater treatment facility at Hondah. This is greatly increasing in capacity, accommodating the planned expanding of our homes at Hondah home sites and Apache Dawn home funding under NAHASDA. The White Mountain Apache Tribal Housing Authority also plans to utilize the USDA's Rural Housing Service, rural development housing service in the near future to expand the home assistance serving our tribe.
Page 21 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC All of our land is trust land. With the assistance of the federal loan guaranteed programs offered under HUD Section 184, Title VI provide NAHASDA, we are able to bridge the housing need for both subsidized and mortgage-based programs with approval of BIA land leases for two consecutive period of 25 years for our tribal members. The maximum lease period of 50 years specified in the NAHASDA statute needs to be changed to allow for even longer period of time.
Steps that can be taken to increase private market initiative is to maintain and to increase the level of federal loan authority under the two HUD loan grant guarantee programs that have worked successfully for our tribe, namely the Section 184, Title VI program. Eligibility criteria should also be expanded to fill the pocket of needs of those families that are not low income which is a growing segment of the tribal population and cannot secure mortgage financing on trust land without some form of many federal loan guarantee. Education
Chairman NEY. I'm sorry. Not to interrupt you, but time has expired.
Mr. WINFIELD. Thank you.
Chairman NEY. Wrap it up.
Mr. WINFIELD. Wrap it up?
Chairman NEY. Yes.
Mr. WINFIELD. Education about these programs should also continue to both tribes and the private financial sector on how these programs work. Heavy education should also be continued for Native American on benefits of true homeownership as well as financial literate education. And this is the statement that was brought to my attention from the tribal chairman. Thank you very much.
Chairman NEY. Thank you. We will have the rest of it in the record.
Page 22 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC [The prepared statement of Johnny Winfield can be found on page 199 in the appendix.]
Chairman NEY. Again, I'm just trying to hold it to five minutes so we can get some questions in. Thank you. President Shirley.
STATEMENT OF JOE SHIRLEY, JR., PRESIDENT, NAVAJO NATION ACCOMPANIED BY CHESTER CARL, CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER, NAVAJO HOUSING AUTHORITY
Mr. SHIRLEY. Thank you, Mr. Chairman, members of the committee.
I feel very honored to share your presence with us here on Navajo land and I want to welcome you. And thank you, Congressman Renzi, for doing everything you could to make this hearing possible. You have done much and I'm looking forward to continue to work with you.
Mr. RENZI. Thank you, Mr. President.
Mr. SHIRLEY. With me here today is Chester Carl, who will help answer questions maybe afterwards.
Gentlemen, Ms. Waters, I'm Joe Shirley, Jr., President of the Navajo Nation. There are a myriad of challenges facing us related to housing, related to Navajos, sovereign Native Americans, but I want to zero in on a particular issue at this time because of the limited time and will share the rest with you in written testimony.
The Navajo Nation and the Navajo Housing Authority are deeply concerned that a recent HUD decision will reduce Indian Housing Block Grants for the Navajo Housing Authority by over $5 million. HUD's policy determination, made without consulting with Indian tribes as mandated by federal law, subverts the letter, intent and spirit of NAHASDA and will prevent the Navajo Nation and many other tribal governments on Indian reservations throughout the country from serving the critical housing needs of our people.
These drastic reductions are caused by HUD's decision to use for the first time the so-called multi-race census data in the Indian Housing Block Grant formula. As you know, the 2000 census allowed those responding to questions on race and ethnicity to check one or more of the listed race categories. In 1990, when only a single race category could be selected, almost two million people checked the American Indian and Alaskan Native category. Yet, in 2000, over four million identified themselves either as American Indian and Alaskan Native alone or as American Indian and Alaskan Native in combination with one or more other races. This amounts to an incredible 110 percent American Indian and Alaskan Native population growth rate compared to the U.S. Population growth rate of only 13 percent.
Page 23 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC In 2000, those who identified themselves as American Indian and Alaskan Native alone was 2.5 million, a figure much more realistic and closer to the population growth rate nationally. Moreover, studies have shown that a substantial majority of those who indicated they are American Indian and Alaskan Native and another race would have selected a non-American Indian and Alaskan Native race if they had been asked to designate only one category. Yet, despite the fact that American Indian and Alaskan Native alone data more accurately reflects the true Indian population under the NAHASDA definition of Indian as any person who is a member of an Indian tribe, HUD has nevertheless mandated the use of the multi-race data in the Indian Housing Block Grants formula.
When the multi-race data is plugged into that formula, large sums of housing funds are shifted away from areas with populations that self-identify as American Indian and Alaskan Native alone, which tend to be reservation lands, to areas of populations that self-identified as American Indian and Alaskan Native in combination with other races, which tend to be more urbanized, non-reservation areas.
Although Congress intended NAHASDA to help tribes and their members improve their housing ambitions and socioeconomic status, HUD's decision disregards the bedrock principle of self-determination and self-governance of the tribe's rights to determine its members.
HUD's own preliminary estimates using multi-race data reveal that with a reduction of over $5 million, the Navajo Nation will suffer the largest single cuts in funding, vital funds that will be taken away from Navajo families desperately in need of basic housing.
Other tribes located right here in Arizona will also face severe reductions. For example, the Tohono O'Odham tribe will lose upwards of $743 million, an 11 percent reduction. The Hopi tribe will lose over $613 million, a 17 percent reduction. The Salt River Pima will lose over $738 million, a 24 percent reduction. And the Chochiti will lose $111,820, a 35 percent reduction.
Page 24 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Congress must not allow this untenable and unfair result to stand. We respectfully request that HUD use tribal enrollment figures as the best indication of who are Indian under, and entitled to the benefits of, NAHASDA or, in the alternative, use the 2000 Census American Indian and Alaskan Native alone count as most compliant within the NAHASDA definition of Indian and most reflective of NAHASDA's intents and purposes.
I might just add also that we are trying our best, Chairman Ney, to defrost the Bennett Freeze. I think you've seen a couple houses in that area, and it's very undeveloped. We had to go through a lot of red tape and bureaucracy to get in any infrastructure. Hopefully, in the near future, we will overcome that. And if we do that, we will need all the help we can get putting in infrastructure and housing and the like. Thank you very much.
Chairman NEY. Thank you, President Shirley.
[The prepared statement of Joe Shirley Jr. can be found on page 168 in the appendix.]
Chairman NEY. We will move on to Chief Smith.
STATEMENT OF CHADWICK SMITH, PRINCIPAL CHIEF, CHEROKEE NATION OF OKLAHOMA
Mr. SMITH. Good afternoon, Chairman, and honorable members of the committee. My name is Chad Smith, and I am the principal chief of the Cherokee Nation. We are located in eastern Oklahoma.
One of the highlights of being principal chief is being able to visit a remote location hidden in the hills of eastern Oklahoma. Even before you are able to see what is happening, you can hear hammering, sawing and humming of generators, all interspersed with the sound of the Cherokee language. You hear the laughter of children playing in the nearby woods. These are sounds of a house being built in a Cherokee community by a Cherokee community.
This is a pilot project. Houses are being built with materials purchased by Cherokee Nation funds using NAHASDA. Community members provide the labor. Instruction and supervision is provided by the Cherokee Nation through USDA funds as well as tribal funds. A flexible, stable funding source such as NAHASDA allows the Cherokee Nation to determine what works best for our members. It is very important to put our common members in a situation where they can rebuild their communities, acquire new capacities and expand their capabilities to help themselves.
Page 25 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC The leadership of the Cherokee Nation can, quote, make ourselves useful, by thinking strategically about how to use our resources in a manner that enhances opportunities for tribal citizens to help themselves. By thinking in a broader context, the Cherokee Nation seeks to build people, not just physical structures.
Let me share with you one example. One of our self-help participants is a full blood Cherokee in his mid 40s who has caught chickens at a processing plant all of his life. This is back-breaking work that is demanding and often physically debilitating through the years. This man often puts eight to ten hours of work in each day catching chickens, then he helps build houses in Cherokee communities for four to six hours on the same day. He just learned how to use a tape measure and thinks he may want to build houses for a living. He wants to volunteer to assist and to teach other Cherokees what he has learned.
The Cherokee Nation would like to see more instances of this to make our limited funding go further and create an epidemic of this type of excitement and activity and self-help.
The Cherokee Nation has used NAHASDA in many other strategic ways to promote capacity building and housing opportunities. We fund Individual Development Accounts, or IDAs, that require matching the private savings of individuals dollar for dollar. We also provide materials only projects for low income individuals who need to rehabilitate their privately-owned house. We have trained and certified staff to eliminate lead-based hazards, lead-based paint hazards in the housing of low income Indians. We are utilizing a Rural Housing and Economic Development grant to establish a structural insulated panel, or SIT panel, manufacturing facility. All these initiatives and others will allow the Cherokee Nation to house more of the neediest.
The Cherokee Nation has leveraged several resources, such as the Low Income Housing Tax Credit, to build several projects and we are the single largest user of the loan guarantees under Title VI of NAHASDA. We plan to aggressively market not only Section 184 loan guarantees, but also USDA's 502 program to our citizens.
Page 26 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC There are some issues that, if resolved, would better enable the Cherokee Nation to strategically address the housing needs of our members. These issues include improving or coordinating processes to allocate Indian Health Service Sanitation Facilities Construction funding; standardizing the environmental, or NEPA, process across federal agencies, and streamlining the residential leasing procedures through the Bureau of Indian Affairs. Stable, consistent funding and processes would allow us to more strategically use the very limited resources available.
Another example of more effective utilization of resources is the Indian Community Block Grant. We could better plan housing, infrastructure development and economic opportunities if we received funding through an allocation formula like large cities do under the public CDBG or, for that matter, NAHASDA.
I would like to also comment on NAHASDA formal allocation for funding and the use of the U.S. Census. The Cherokee Nation citizens and other Indians in our area are undercounted by whatever census classification or count, whether it be by single race or multiple race. However, Census information at this point is the only available information collected systematically in which we have confidence and the use of which has been determined through the negotiated rulemaking between tribes and the Department of Housing and Urban Development. The use of census information should be used as long as it approximates tribal citizenship. We believe that any other use of Census classifications, such as a restriction to only using a single race, becomes purely a race-based policy rather than a proxy or an index for citizenship in federally recognized tribes when the effect is to artificially underestimate the amounts of tribal citizens in an area. The use of the multiple-race classification from the U.S. Census results in a more accurate estimate of the tribal citizens in our area, even though that number itself is undercounted.
We support any systemI want to reiterate thiswe support any system that is verifiable and reliable that best reflects the number of citizens of federally recognized tribes and Alaska Natives for specific formula areas.
Page 27 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC In closing, I would like to express our appreciation for the contribution of Congress, the attention of this committee. What you have done for the Cherokee Nation and other Indian tribes and your support of Indian Nation programs and self-government and its self-determination are very valuable for our continued existence and our efforts to regain the dignity and status that we once historically held. Thank you very much.
Chairman NEY. Thank you, Chief.
[The prepared statement of Chadwick Smith can be found on page 174 in the appendix.]
Chairman NEY. And Chairman Taylor.
STATEMENT OF WAYNE TAYLOR, JR., CHAIRMAN, HOPI TRIBE
Mr. TAYLOR. Chairman Ney, honorable members of the subcommittee, welcome, and thank you so much for coming to visit our homeland. My name is Wayne Taylor, Jr., and I am Chairman of the Hopi Tribe.
My remarks today focus on the need to increase the opportunities for Hopi people to live in quality and affordable housing and to improve our participation under NAHASDA. In addition, I will offer my thoughts on some of the critical legislative and policy issues related to housing that require the attention of our Congressional delegation and Congress generally.
By way of background, the Hopi people and their ancestors have lived in northern Arizona and the southwest in general for many thousands of years. Our ancestors' once thriving but now abandoned villages can be found throughout portions of Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado and Utah. In 1882, the United States set aside a small portion of our former ancestral home as a reservation intended as a permanent home and abiding place for Hopi. The Hopi village of Oraibi was a bustling community many centuries before the coming of the European explorers and today is recognized as the oldest continuously inhabited community in North America.
Page 28 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Our reservation, some 1.6 million acres of land, is situated in the middle of the Arizona portion of the Navajo Reservation. The 12 villages of the Hopi reservation are within a two-hour drive of the non-Indian border towns of Flagstaff, Winslow and Holbrook. We are cross-town neighbors to the Navajo community of Tuba City. According to the most recent population data, the Hopi tribe has an on-reservation population of 8,000 tribal members with another 4,000 members living off the reservation. The average household income for families in the Hopi communities is $26,553, which is almost six thousand, almost seven thousand less than the income for neighboring non-Indian communities in Coconino and Navajo counties.
The Hopi have a long history of housing development. As settled village dwellers, the Hopi built and maintained community development projects throughout thousands of years of their history preceding the founding of the United States. Hopi communities were designed and constructed not simply as shelters from the elements, but rather as places of safety and social cohesion. The Hopi village was a place where individual families could live comfortably, practice their agrarian economy, attend to their religious obligations and build a society that took care of their community members and offered them a clear direction toward future security and prosperity.
Anyone visiting the Hopi villages today will see Hopi homes built by Hopi hands that have been passed down through family and clan inheritance for many hundreds of years. Generations of Hopi people have literally been born, raised, and passed on in Hopi housing built by their ancestors.
Unfortunately, our ability to keep pace with the need of new housing through modern housing programs has not come close to matching the ingenuity and adaptability of our ancestors. Hopi people simply do not have sufficient quality and affordable housing to meet existing and projected needs. Housing is currently one of the greatest challenges facing the Hopi people. Housing development faces a number of challenges. Finding suitable locations for new housing can be extremely difficult because of our system of village and clan land holdings that restrict the building of new homes in close proximity to the historic villages and reserves much of the land for agriculture and religious practices. Of course, this is a matter within the political control of the Hopi Tribe and their villages and will have to be worked out according to those political processes.
Page 29 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Our solution is to move new housing into areas not subject to such restrictions. However, in such locations, we face the difficulty of developing basic infrastructure, including water, sewer, electricity and roads and the lack of funds for construction activity. As our Hopi population grows and the demand for housing increases, we fear these problems will only get worse.
The statistics related to affordable housing for the Hopi Tribe are disturbing and discouraging. According to the recent surveys conducted by the Hopi Tribal Housing Authority, there are 2,485 families living on the Hopi Reservation, of which 2,043 are low income; 1,215 Hopi families live in substandard housing units, and nearly 691 families live in overcrowded conditions, usually sharing the same household with other family members.
The same survey shows that 1,116 owner-occupied units and 137 renter-occupied units under the HUD housing program, for total units of 1,253. The statistics for these 1,253 units are startling but not surprising. Of the 1,253 units, 436 are in standard condition; 337 require minor rehabilitation; 439 require substantial rehabilitation, 29 are dilapidated and require replacement; and ten are of unknown structural condition. Financial assistance is badly needed to repair and rehabilitate 773 units and to rebuild 29 new units.
The above statistics apply only to the Housing Authority Indian Housing Plan for 2004. How am I doing on time?
Mr. RENZI. Wrap it up.
Mr. TAYLOR. Okay. What are we doing about the current situation? A number of years ago, the Hopi Tribal Council approved a comprehensive values plan, and within this plan designed five new community sites to be located on the Hopi partition lands. One such site is the Tawaovi community. The new community of Tawaovi is located 15 miles north of Second Mesa along BIA Route 4, also know as Turquoise Trail. The Tawaovi community provides for mixed-use housing, commercial and industrial development, and other government facilities. We are working with the local housing authority to plan new housing for these communities. We need Congressional support to make the plans a reality.
Page 30 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC I have some recommended legislative and policy matters that we would like to have your subcommittee in Congress assist us with. They have been generally addressed already, so I will leave that as part of my written record.
Chairman NEY. It will be accepted without objection.
Mr. TAYLOR. Thank you.
Chairman NEY. Thank you, Chairman.
[The prepared statement of Wayne Taylor Jr., can be found on page 193 in the appendix.]
Chairman NEY. I want to thank all of the panelists.
Let me ask our ranking member, Ms. Waters, I'd like to ask a question about something we saw today. It's a generic question on behalf of us.
I saw a hogan, and there was a power line. I could visibly see that power line, and the line was there, but it can't be connected. And it's due to a
Mr. RENZI. Arizona Public Service.
Chairman NEY. Arizona Public Service, and then I think the Bennett Freeze. So the question I want to ask is, in my mind, what benefit is it when you can stand and see that power line and not be hooked up? It's not a matter of money, in my opinion. Let's say it costs five hundred dollars to hook it up. We say here is the five hundred, but it can't be hooked up because of the Bennett Freeze? Is that correct? Anybody like to answer that?
Mr. TAYLOR. Mr. Chairman, Wayne Taylor, Hopi Tribe Chairman.
What we are dealing with in certain parts of this area here are what is called the Bennett Freeze areas. This is currently in litigation and has been the subject of many court battles. It has been appealed to the Ninth Circuit and has been remanded now to the lower district court in Phoenix and we are awaiting some kind of a decision by the judge in that case. Unfortunately, that has been there in the courts for quite a long period of time.
Page 31 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC I would like to commend the leadership for the Navajo Nation. Starting with President Kelsey Begay, we began to have negotiations to try to settle this land issue so that we can unfreeze the so-called Bennett Freeze. When President Joe Shirley became the next President, we continued these mediations, and I am happy to report that we have now reached an agreement in principle on a compact that we will now be taking to Washington D.C. Where we hope that the Department of Interior would also sign off on this particular compact.
We then will have a product that we can take to our respective tribal councils for ratification. This will address the unfortunate delays in getting people to get serviced.
Chairman NEY. So does the Bennett Freeze prevent that power line from being hooked up today, or is it an arrangement you have to make between the two nations or between the two tribes?
Mr. TAYLOR. What happens is any kind of development has to getof course, it begins with the Navajo Nation. They go through their review process. Once that's concluded, then it goes to the Hopi Tribe because it's those lands that we have litigation over so we have to concur on these developments. And the development has tothe permit for these developments have to come through the Hopi Tribe. We have to concur before development can begin.
And there is a process in place for that, and I would say that 98 percent of those requests that come to the Hopi Tribe are approved. It's just that it's a lengthy process.
Chairman NEY. One thing that confused me. We reviewed the Bennett Freeze, which in 1961, Bennett was in Congress. But, for example, this was a unit thatICE did a real good job of building this, you know, and helping the family. But if we are talking about development, that was built sothe actual home was built, so it's hard for me to understand why the line couldn't be hooked up because the actual home was built. Is there also a problem with Arizona Public, or power supplies? Is that another side? Let me try to make it more clear. I'm probably not making it clear enough.
Page 32 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC If it's a matter of development, why could the actual home be built but why couldn't the line come 20 feet into the home? If it's a matter of development of the Bennett Freeze, then the home shouldn't have been built. I'm just trying to rationalize it. I'm not blaming anybody, I'm just trying to rationalize it in my mind.
Mr. SHIRLEY. Chairman, members of the committee. One of the things that also is going on besides what Chairman Taylor has alluded to, the bureaucracy in getting power to homes because of the Bennett Freeze, there is also jurisdiction regarding power companies. We have our own.
The Navajo Nation has its
Chairman NEY. The jurisdiction of what?
Mr. SHIRLEY. Power companies.
Chairman NEY. Power companies?
Mr. SHIRLEY. Yes. Arizona Public Service is an entity that's outside Navajo land. The Navajo Tribal Utility Authority is the tribe's own power source. It hooks up electricity, power, water, sewer to homes. So, because of the Bennett Freeze, we have to also negotiate on the cost sometimes. And sometimes APS could come in and sometimes NTUA could come in for whatever reason. So that's one of the reasons why.
Chairman NEY. Thank you. My time is up. I will yield to our ranking member.
Ms. WATERS. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.
I would like to thank our panelists for being here today. I'm particularly pleased to see and meet the leadership of not only the Navajo, but the Hopi.
And I am looking for some guidance. I need you to tell this panel what your priority suggestions would be for helping to remove some of the barriers, whether that is with lending agencies, Congress cutbacks, administration cutbacks, or with tribal court cases or the Bennett Freeze that's been talked about.
Page 33 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Now, as I understandlet me just backtrack a little bit. As I understand, it appears that the courtsthe Bennett Freeze settlement is now in the hands of the court.
Mr. TAYLOR. Correct.
Ms. WATERS. But you also indicated that the tribes were getting together in addition to what the court is doing.
Should you reach an agreement or settlement prior to the court finishing its work, would that take precedence over the courts and then the court would no longer have to be involved in this decision? Mr. Taylor
Mr. SHIRLEY. It is my understanding, Miss Waters, the Hopi Nation, working with the Navajo Nation, is trying to come to an agreement where we are going to put an end to the litigation. And once we reach agreement, hopefully, for everybody, that will happen. And then from there, infrastructure and housing will start going into Bennett Freeze.
Ms. WATERS. So you're saying that a settlement between the tribes would supersede the court work that's being done now so you may not have to wait for another year or six months on a court decision? Is that correct?
Mr. TAYLOR. Congresswoman Waters, the case is in the lower district court, as I mentioned, and we have been waiting for the judge to make some kind of a ruling on this particular case, but that, unfortunately, has not been forthcoming for quite a long time.
So that was what prompted the two tribes to begin to talk. And what we have done is we have asked the courts to assist us in this effort, and they have assigned one of the judges from the Ninth Circuit court and so that judge is helping to mediate between the two parties.
So once theall the parties have signed on to the agreement, then that will end this case.
Page 34 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Ms. WATERS. That's great and that's very encouraging. We visited a location today where an elderly woman was living in a very substandard housing situation because her home had burned down and she could not replace it because of the dispute. So this would be wonderful if the tribes can reach an agreement, and we would certainly encourage, encourage, encourage you to do that. And I suppose once that's done, that would help to move the issues of housing development in some very profound ways.
If I have time, Mr. Chairman, the next thing I want to know is what can we do, what do you suggest that we do with the financial services community? What would you say to banks and financial institutions about providing loans and mortgages to families when they say that they can't do it or it's very difficult for them to do it because there's a lack of ownership by individual families to own trust land and there is not a lot of income by Indian families for collateral? Do you have any suggestions or any ideas about what we can do? What could we say to those financial institutions?
Mr. SHIRLEY. Chairman and Ms. Waters, let me defer that question to my technical person, who is also the chief executive officer of the Navajo Housing Authority, Chester Carl, to help me answer that question.
Ms. WATERS. Yes. Please identify yourself for the record.
Mr. CARL. Thank you very much, Congresswoman Waters and Chairman Ney, and, of course, Congressman Renzi and Congressman Matheson. Thank you for the opportunity to ask these questions.
One of the barriers that we see is related to possibly the enforcement of the Community Reinvestment Act. Currently, on the Navajo Nation, we only have five banking facilities, while on the streets of Washington D.C., you'll find five banks in one block. And because of the lack of investments, Navajo opportunities of every American dream to establish homeownership is not possible.
Page 35 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC So, because of those challenges that we face, a lot of times banks are able to post an acceptable score in using other neighboring communities on how they invest their money in Indian country. So as a committee empowered with that authority, we would like for you to look at how community reinvestment works in Indian country.
The second part of that is there's been a lot of discussion on Section 184. When Section 184 was implemented, it was a dream to allow opportunities to Native Americans who were not at the acceptable level for conventional loan programming. Somewhere along the way through the bureaucratic process, it became where you almost had to be goldplated in order to get a loan through the Section 184 program. When we started the program, the approval was done at the field offices of the Native American program, and eventually that got centralized to the national office and it became problematic, so it hasn't been at a level where it should be. So the recommendation would be possibly move it back down to the field offices because we work with those offices hand-in-hand and one-on-one, and we will try to work with those programs as well.
The third part of that is the BIA. You noted that the BIA is not at the table. Part of that is a recommendation for procedures, and there is a commission that's been established called the Land Title Commission by Congress, and if we could fast track that and have that commission go into effect so we can start to get some of these issues resolved, then, through sovereign rights of tribes, to establish a title plan with the tribe and BIA for those functions.
Ms. WATERS. Thank you very much. Those are very concrete recommendations and I'm sure that our members of Congress representing the area can move on those kinds of recommendations to remove some of these barriers. And of course, if they don't, their friends will nudge them. All right. Thank you.
Chairman NEY. Thank you. Gentleman from Arizona, Mr. Renzi.
Mr. RENZI. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Chairman Kitcheyen, in your testimony, you spoke about infrastructure needs. You also mentioned the fact that if we build 125 homes a year for the next ten years, we would only begin to meet the current housing need.
Page 36 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC What is the number one impediment at San Carlos Apache that doesn't allow the, this generation to purchase homes? What is the number one impediment you're finding?
Ms. KITCHEYEN. Currently, the number one barrier is the fact that over a year ago, the tribe submitted to HUD environmental reviews. And because they are so slow in doing their job, we are two years behind in spending our dollars.
Mr. RENZI. Tell me a little bit about that submittal, please. It was to the HUD for environmental review.
Ms. KITCHEYEN. Okay. There's two projects, Congressman, that we did. And I'm not sure how many homes we're talking about, but I'm sure that, I think it is about two housing units, so that would be four, and they are behind, like I said. And right now that's the current barrier. We need to use those dollars, and we just don't, you know, we waitedand what we would need is for the government to give more leverage to the southwest office in Phoenix so they can have the additional support to speed up that process.
Mr. RENZI. Thank you. We have officials here on the second panel who will be testifying. He is the Under Secretary for Public and Indian Housing, and I want to be sure that Michael, when he does come up, heard your words, particularly the fact that you have two projects that are ready to go, we just need a little bit of help.
President Shirley, you also spoke and devoted much of your testimony towards, also, a need at HUD. What would you like to seeand, again, forgive me for asking you to repeat, but just encapsulate as it relates to the census issue. What would you like to see the solution being? You can speak directly to the HUD people who are here listening to your voice right now.
Mr. SHIRLEY. My testimony surrounds the multi-race, the use of the multi-race data, and we feel that it's outside of federal law. I guess what I would like to see is getting back to federal law where you work with tribal members to get who is a member of tribes, who is supposed to be benefitting from the allocations for housing from the federal government. That would be my recommendation.
Page 37 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. RENZI. I also want to call attention and thank you for your leadership, along with Chairman Taylor, on the Bennett Freeze issue. I know no one together has worked as tireless as you two guys have to come up with what is on the verge, I believe, of a beautiful compromise.
Finallyyes. That deserves some recognition. It really does.
President Shirley, you have been looking for creative ways to build your own payroll. Monies are being spent on surrounding communities. Can you quickly help us understand what we need to do in order for that dollar to stay on Navajo lands so that it will be recycled and how that would affect your people.
Mr. SHIRLEY. We need economic growth returned. And right now, the Navajo Nation has as one of its initiatives to develop a small business sector of Navajo Nation economy, and that would involve bringing in big boxes like Wal-Mart and Super Target to create jobs, create additional revenues. If we can create jobs here, that's revenues that will flow within the Navajo land and out of the border towns.
Mr. RENZI. By creating the jobs, you are going to have the ability to borrow and have the credit and ability to lend.
Finally, as far as the White Mountain Apache are involved, sir, thank you for coming and filling in for Chairman Massey. We were able to accomplish together a project that both the governor's office, the State, as well as the federal government, this facility called Apache Dawn. It was one of the first areas where we were able to lend money, to get the Home Loan Bank out of San Francisco, through an Arizona bank, to lend money to you all.
And I think the issue came down toobviously, traditional lenders won't lend because of the sovereign land. They won't attach collateral to sovereign land. This is one of the big issues as it relates to the traditional lending arms of a commercial facility looking at attaching to sovereign land. They don't do it.
Page 38 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Can you quickly tell the people here how you were able to overcome that obstacle and how this model has become a model for, I believe, many of the Native American people around the nation?
Mr. WINFIELD. One of the things I would like to express to the committee here is that I think White Mountain Apache Tribe has been really looking forward for some great opportunity, and I think that they came when the national President expressed about these kind of projects, and we got into the picture and we entered, got ourself into it to the point where we decided to go after some of these projects. So I have a young lady from the housing program with me so I will let her express, explain this thing. I would like to call Miss Yazzie to come over.
Mr. RENZI. State your name for the record, please.
Ms. YAZZIE. My name is Aneva Yazzie. I'm a management consultant to the White Mountain Apache Housing Authority.
In response to your question, Congressman, what we have utilized in order to make this whole transaction possible was to take advantage of HUD's federal loan guarantee programs offer under the Section 184 program, as well as HUD's Title VI loan guarantee program to overcometo minimize financial institutions' risk on reservation land for the White Mountain Apache Tribe.
So in that regard, we were able to put in the underwriting with the various bankers, Bank One, Countrywide Home Loans for the Apache Dawn program, and then the WIFA state agency as well is a qualified lender.
Mr. RENZI. So to get those financial organizations to lend money to the Apache Nation, and they can't collateralize the land, did we post a bond to collateralize? What collateral did you all provide to make them comfortable with lending the half million dollars you got in order to finish the infrastructure?
Page 39 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Ms. YAZZIE. What collateralized under that bond underwriting process was the Section 184 loan program. Let me explain that process real quickly and as simply as I can.
What we have done is we have utilized HUD's 184 loan program to get the construction loan for each home that was built with Bank One. I'll name the financial institution that we partnered with. Bank One then, in turn, sold the mortgage loan to a loan servicer, Countrywide Home Loans. Countrywide Home Loans then, in turn, pooled those loans into a Ginnie Mae security. The Ginnie Mae security then was sold to the bond trustee. In this case, the bonds were sold, which they held the notes to pay the investors.
Mr. RENZI. So that creative financial instrument was then able to allow and effectuate how many homes at Apache Dawn?
Ms. YAZZIE. We initially planned 250, but we are building now 317 homes for $25 million.
Mr. RENZI. 317 homes, new homes, as a result of this creative financing.
Mr. Chairman, I see my time is up. I want to thank you very much. Chairman Taylor, I didn't get a chance to ask my question of you, but we'll talk later.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Chairman NEY. Thank you. The gentleman from Utah.
Mr. MATHESON. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
I have to say this panel, in reviewing their testimony, has offered a number of specific recommendations. I'm very impressed with the quality of the testimony. I think it gives the committee a lot to cue on and consider. I've sat in on a lot of congressional hearings in my short career, and this is very impressive in terms of your testimony. I appreciate that.
Page 40 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC A couple things I wanted to ask about. First of all, there are a number of impediments. There is no simple answer to these issues. We have talked about the problem with the trust and tribal lands, the lack of infrastructure in terms of water, electric, roads. We have talked about working with federal bureaucracies. I understand that there are a number of challenges here, but there is another one we haven't talked about too much, and that's the overall funding level. And, as you know, there is a concern about the budget, consideration going on in Congress right now what the funding levels are going to be and if they are going to be cut or not.
I hear it's going to take, from Mr. Taylor's testimony, 123 years to meet current demands. And I assume that's because right now, based on the funding stream coming to you, that's what it equates to, 123 years to meet your current demand.
Mr. TAYLOR. That's correct, Mr. Congressman.
Mr. MATHESON. He said yes. I'll answer for him.
What I hear from the San Carlos Apache is that you have to build 125 homes a year for ten years? Is that a rate that you are achieving right now with the funding stream you've got.
Ms. KITCHEYEN. No, sir.
Mr. MATHESON. What rate
Ms. KITCHEYEN. It's not what we're achieving right now. Currently, we have 2,400 families on the reservation that need homes, and 39 percent of families live in substandard housing. And we also have 40 percent of families that live in overcrowded conditions. Ninety-four percent of 3,067 total families are considered low income under NAHASDA.
So what we need is more money committed to build homes on the Indian reservations.
Mr. MATHESON. I don't want to oversimplify. I said at the start of my comments you can't oversimplify. And just more funding is not the only solution here, but I think we need to put that issue out as one of the variables we ought to be talking about. We ought to talk about the fact that the budget considerations in Congress right now, I do not think are adequate. This majority would probably agree with that comment.
Page 41 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC I wanted to switch to Chief Smith. You mentioned in your testimony how the Cherokee Nation is the largest user of the loan guarantees under Title VI of NAHASDA, and you're actually looking to expand it because relatively few tribes outside the Cherokee Nation have been taking advantage of this program.
What is it that has allowed you to take advantage of this program in such a successful way.
Mr. SMITH. Probably the necessity of the moment. The funding by the government is very marginal. We have to be very creative and aggressive. We have had the cooperation of the local banks and HUD and other agencies. We borrowed $50 million. We anticipate it's going to build 550, 600 houses. We have already got 400 on the ground.
Mr. MATHESON. I would just suggest it sounds to me there may very well be a lessen to be learned in terms of your relationship, you said with your local banks and whatnot, that other tribes could benefit from as well in terms of this program. I think that's another piece of information not just for us, but for the other folks on the panel. That's a good lesson we could take some advice in.
One more question I have on the trust status of lands and its impediments to moving forward. I read in one of my pieces of material that I was provided to prepare for this meeting that under the current backlog with BIA title searches, that there is a 113-year backlog.
How are you ever going to make progress on your housing shortages with that kind of backlog? Maybe there is no answer to that, quite frankly, but tell me if that's a significant issue in trying to make progress in the housing. And I'm asking no one in particular, but how is that affecting you when you have BIA that slow in doing the title searches?
Mr. SHIRLEY. Right now, that'syou're right, Congressman Matheson, that the BIA just hasn't been there for tribes. In our case, the Navajo Nation, right now we are trying to go through a reorganization, trying to just get at that. They should have gotten that fixed decades ago. And right now it's a big hinderance because of the lack of their progress, or the lack of being there for tribes. And all I can say is that because of them, my gosh, on Navajo land not only are we behind on improving housing, but we are behind by $435 million.
Page 42 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. MATHESON. I know my time is up, but one last question.
In terms of this trust land status and how it's been an impediment to you making progress on the Navajo Nation in terms of housingand I know this hearing isn't specifically about housing, but is that also affecting you in terms of moving forward, in terms of commercial development and economic development within the Navajo Nation as well?
Mr. SHIRLEY. Yes, it has. In terms of leasing, same with Congressman Renzi addressing collateral and borrowing money, we can't put up the land as collateral to borrow money. That has been one of the biggest impediments.
And, also, because of trust land status, the BIA has to have a hand in every business that is leased. And right now, we are trying to lock up on the loans to get away from that. If we could do our own leasing, I think that would go a long way towards putting economic development on the fast track.
Mr. WINFIELD. I would like to express a few items that were brought up about the need of housing.
Today in the United States there is 500 Indian tribes that the unmet needs are so great that what you brought up, 113 years possibly to catch up. I am involved in the National Budget Tribal Committee with the western region. There is 12 Indian tribes throughout the United States that have been putting the 2006 budget together. And the last two, three weeks ago, we were back in D.C. And sat with the committee and the Department of Interior to start on a financial budget for 2006.
Just to let the public be aware, United States BIA tribal prioritized budget allocation for 2006, we are going to see $253 million budget cut for Indian tribes throughout the United States. For 2005, we experience over $50 million budget cut already. So, through the President of the United States, we have experienced for 2005-2006 a big, major budget cut for Indian country. And we are trying to request for top priorities on the allocation, and on the list, housing is one of them that is a main need. But we are continually seeing ourself being involved in budget cut from Department of Interior.
Page 43 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC We don't know how we're going to see ourselves in another so many years, 2007, how our budget will look, but 2006, it hurts to see $253 million budget cut for United States Indian tribes, twelve region, 500 Indian tribes. You are involved in the committee is great for housing. That's the greatest thing. We even put the Housing Improvement Project, they call it HIP, into our top priorities, and that has hit a major cutback already, too, from the BIA.
So talking about HUD here, HIP is getting major cuts and we're hurting. Indian tribes is hurting. Your visit to Navajo Nation, if you visit the whole 500 Indian tribes, you would come to a similar housing need for Indian people. So, you know, I hope that this meeting will come to something very special and major so that one day we can see improvement in Indian country because of great equal housing.
Like the San Carlos Chairwoman said, 2,000 plus need; White Mountain is about, somewhere close, near the same number for our people. Thank you.
Mr. MATHESON. I appreciate that.
Ms. KITCHEYEN. Chairman Ney, if I may, please. I forgot to include this as part of the formal testimony. I'd like to enter it at this time, please.
Chairman NEY. Without objection.
Ms. KITCHEYEN. Thank you.
Chairman NEY. Let me just note in closing this panel that we need toand, unfortunately, the BIA is not here today. Another thing we need to do between now and then.
I wanted to state that this brings up some issues, and although all of us value housing, these new bits and pieces of things work more correctly when you start to look at other areas where housing is done. For example, in my area, how housing is done now, there's the trust, the deed, a variety of factors.
But it also seems that if monies go through HUD, some monies go through BIA, some monies through veterans, they are going to come to a log jam at every point involved in the BIA. And what is going to happen is, if you want to talk about budgeting, is people in Washington that deal with budgets are going to look at and it say, well, the money was given to the Indian community but they didn't use all of it so, therefore, the money is coming back that wasn't used.
Page 44 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC And you can understand that. That's part of the process of thinking. I'm not saying it's always correct, but that's part of the process of thinking.
I think also, I'd like to know as the monies come out where they go, what holds it up. So, obviously, if there is a 113-year log jam, we have a problem withmagically, today, if there was enough money to build homesgetting titles. So I think we need to look at that.
I want to thank the great panel. You have provided a lot of information. You have done a lot of good today. After listening, I understand, and I'm also a little confused, which is not bad. It makes us ask more questions. So I want to thank the panel.
We will move on to the second panel.
Chairman NEY. The hearing will come to order if it could, please. We will now continue with panel two. Please take a seat and we will go on with panel two.
The first person to testify for panel two is Gilbert Gonzalez, Jr. Gilbert Gonzalez, Jr. is the Acting Under Secretary for Rural Development, the U.S. Department of Agriculture. He oversees three agenciesif we can come to order, please, so we can hear the second panel, which is important. Can we come to order. Okay, you're being tougher than Congress is. If we can please come to order.
Mr. Gonzalez oversees three agencies, the Rural Business Cooperative Service, the Rural Utilities Service and the Rural Housing Service that together provides $14 million annually in grants, loans, and technical assistance to rural residents, communities and businesses.
Mr. Gonzalez has been active in banking, housing and economic development efforts in the State of Texas. He was the founding President of the Community Development Loan Fund, a for-profit loan and development corporation, a collaborative effort between the city of San Antonio and 21 banks. The corporation served the credit needs of small minority-owned and women-owned businesses in San Antonio.
Page 45 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Michael Liu is the Assistant Secretary for Public and Indian Housing at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. He oversees the administration of all public housing, Section 8 rental systems, and Native American programs. Programs are comprised of over 60 percent of the housing budget, over $30 billion.
Prior to his assuming his position at HUD, Mr. Liu served as a managing committee member for the Federal Home Loan Bank of Chicago.
We want to thank both gentleman for coming the distance here to Arizona and we will start with Mr. Gonzalez. Thank you.
STATEMENT OF GILBERT G. GONZALEZ, JR., ACTING UNDERSECRETARY FOR RURAL DEVELOPMENT, U.S. DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE; ACCOMPANIED BY ED BROWNING, STATE DIRECTOR FOR ARIZONA
Mr. GONZALEZ. Thank you, Chairman Ney, members of the Committee, for the opportunity to discuss how USDA Rural Development is working to support housing opportunities for Native Americans.
But before I proceed, I would like to introduce our State director for Arizona, Eddie Browning, and some of our Native American and housing specialists.
It is personally gratifying for me to lead a team of professionals who work every day with families and communities of various Native American nations and other rural areas and to see and hear how Rural Development programs are impacting the lives of people living in rural areas.
Mr. Chairman, the housing programs authorized by this subcommittee are changing lives and are bringing new hope where it didn't exist before. Rural Development is proud to be part of this effort to increase housing opportunities for Native American families. We are also proud of our commitments, to assist families and communities with overall economic and community development needs.
Page 46 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Rural Development is essentially a large bank with an $86 billion loan portfolio. Our mission is to increase economic opportunity and to improve the quality of life for all rural communities. Our vision is to be a catalyst and to help rural communities to diversify their economics and to increase the flow of capital for homeownership, for entrepreneurship and for infrastructure.
Homeownership is the oldest form of building equity. Rural Development has seen a 20 percent increase in single family housing direct loans to Native Americans over the last three years. In our single family housing guarantee program, we have seen nearly a 50 percent increase.
Supporting existing housing: For example, the families in Le Chee have received repairs and renovations that have brought new ''luxuries'' that we take for granted, such as indoor plumbing, electricity, et cetera.
Other housing opportunities: The White Mountain Apache multi-family housing complex was dedicated last Thursday. It has 22 units that will provide decent, safe, and affordable housing. Displayed to my right is the multi-family project that I am describing. And, obviously, there is a celebration with the Crown Dancers, celebrating the grand opening of that multi-family project.
Entrepreneurship is the economic engine of the U.S. economy.
Rural Development invested $31 million in grants and low interest loans for local revolving loan funds for individual business startups and expansions, and 16 business loan guarantees.
The third leg of economic development for rural areas is infrastructure, and I want to cite one example of what we are doing in rural America. Our broadband program and other technologies are bringing and providing rural communities the ability to compete domestically and globally.
Page 47 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC An example of this is our distance learning and telemedicine program and our broadband program. Both bringing economic opportunity and quality of life for those in rural communities. The Wellpinit School District on the Spokane Indian reservation, which serves 450 students K through 12, is one of the examples where we provided assistance. Several years ago, the school district was concerned with dropout rates of the students. Becoming aware that they lacked access to a variety of classes their students needed, they decided they needed to create global classrooms where students have access to educational opportunities worldwide in a job corps training center. They applied for and received a distance learning telemedicine grant from Rural Development to help create these classrooms and training facilities.
Since then, they have received a second distance learning telemedicine grant. This past year, the school district had a 100 percent graduation rate, and all 13 graduates went on to attend college. As a group, they received nearly a half million dollars in scholarships.
Secretary Venaman announced in May 2003 $20 million in grants to support additional advances in technology and broadband. Of that, eight million is going to support Native American ventures, three here in Arizona, for over $760,000.
Coming from the private sector myself and coming to the government, there definitely is a lack of coordination. Successful economic development requires working together, cooperation, coordination with federal and private sector partners, and more importantly with educational partners.
Many who are present here today, Fannie Mae, the banks like Wells Fargo, credit unions and others, Rural Development in the past two and a half years has partnered with HUD, the Small Business Administration, Treasury, CDFI program, Congress, its EDA program and HHS, just to name a few. Banking partners in my, in my experience are capital providers who will bring economic opportunity to rural communities.
Page 48 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Since the beginning of the Bush Administration, we have utilized in Rural Development 40 plus programs administered by Rural Development to invest over $37 billion to support local economic and community development efforts, investments that will improve overall living and economic conditions in rural communities, including communities in the nations represented here today.
Our philosophy is that it's all about local ownership and local control, and when local leaders drive these opportunities, businesses flourish, more families become homeowners, access to health and educational services are improved, and the community as a whole begins to reap the benefits. The Bush Administration has been working hard with American Indian, Alaskan Native tribes, tribal communities, tribal organizations and individuals to provide a greater understanding of the investment opportunities available and assist with guidance on how to access Rural Development financing.
Since the beginning of the Bush Administration, Rural Development has doubled the investments made to Native American communities. In fact, Rural Development has provided nearly a quarter of a billion towards this effort; every year, setting new records and providing financial assistance for housing, community facilities, economic development, and infrastructure.
To my far right is a second set of graphs that shows in 2001, Rural Development provided $177 million in Native American communities. In 2002, we provided $191 million in Native American Communities. In 2003, Rural Development invested about $234 million in rural investments in Native American communities.
Mr. Chairman, your hearing today provides us with an opportunity to share with you and members of the subcommittee ways in which we are administering Rural Development programs to maximize federal resources with other federal, tribal, state and local government and private sector partners, as well as individual investments to supplement the resources provided through Rural Development. This becomes particularly important as we seek to reach more communities and individuals.
Page 49 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC I believe we are making progress, but I also believe we must continue to find new ways to do more. I have shared in my written testimony many of the successful efforts we have undertaken over the past three years, particularly in support of Native American families and their communities.
Mr. Chairman, I am happy to answer any questions you may have at this time.
Chairman NEY. Thank you, Mr. Gonzalez.
[The prepared statement of Gilbert G. Gonzalez Jr. can be found on page 86 in the appendix.]
Chairman NEY. Mr. Liu, to you.
STATEMENT OF HON. MICHAEL LIU, ASSISTANT SECRETARY FOR PUBLIC AND INDIAN HOUSING, U.S. DEPARTMENT OF HOUSING AND URBAN DEVELOPMENT
Mr. LIU. Mr. Chairman, members of the committee, thank you for inviting me to this very important hearing on improving housing for Native Americans. My name is Michael Liu, and I am the Assistant Secretary for Public and Indian Housing, responsible for the management, operation and oversight of HUD's Native American programs. These programs are available to 562 federally recognized Indian tribes. We serve these tribes directly or through their tribally designated housing entities by providing grants and loan guarantees designed to support affordable housing and community and economic development functions.
Tribes are improving housing conditions for their members. This momentum needs to be sustained as we continue to collaborate to create a better living environment for these families.
At the outset, let me reaffirm the Department of Housing and Urban Development's support for the principle of government-to-government relations with federally recognized Indian tribes. HUD is committed to honoring this fundamental precept in our work with American Indians and Alaskan Natives.
Page 50 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Over the seven years that funding has been made available under the Native American Housing Assistance and Self-Determination Act, NAHASDA, over $4.4 billion has been appropriated through HUD to try to get tribally designated housing entities to provide decent, safe and affordable housing throughout Indian country. During this same period, HUD's Indian CDBG program helped address the economic development, infrastructure and community development needs of federally recognized tribes with $485 million in funding.
The Section 184 loan guarantee program, which made its first loan in FY '97 has guaranteed over 1,500 loans worth more than $151 million. The program provides the answer for many families, tribes, and TDHEs who want to obtain home mortgages on trusts or restricted lands, as well as fee lands where there is a service area or area of operation that has been assigned to the tribes. These are places where private market lenders never did business before.
The Title VI program allows the tribe to jump start and enhance its housing programs with federally guaranteed loans. Loan guarantees amounting to $77 million are in place under the Title VI program. I encourage you to review my written testimony which begins by briefly outlining our programs, going over the numbers in the FY '05 budget request, and then discusses an issue that I want to focus in on today: The large credit authority balances and our loan funds and how we are working aggressively with tribes and lenders to get much needed capital into Native American communities for homeownership.
We have two loan guarantee programs that I touched on a moment ago. I would like you to consider them when you think about homeownership. The Section 184 Indian Housing Loan Guarantee Program certainly is in line with one of the administration's highest priorities, and that is creating more homeownership for America. While 70 percent of all American households own their own homes, the number is significantly less for Native Americans, especially for those on the rural trust lands that constitute most Indian reservations.
Section 184 provides a 100 percent guarantee for loans to income eligible and creditworthy Native American families, Indian tribes, or their tribally designated housing entities. Borrowers can purchase, construct, or acquire single-family homes on Indian trust or restricted lands, land within the service area of an IHBG grant recipient, and in other designated Indian areas.
Page 51 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC The reluctance of banks and lenders to engage in mortgage lending on trust land prompted creation of the program. It has made homeownership a reality for many Native American families. The 100 percent guarantee, combined with lower closing costs, is attractive to both lenders and borrowers, and if used on trust lands, tribes must have a functioning tribal court system or enter into an agreement with another ajudicatory entity and enact ordinances covering foreclosure, eviction, and related matters.
A direct result of the program is it provides an opportunity for lower and moderate income families living on reservations to move from subsidized housing units and thus freeing up that housing for use by low income families.
The GAO, in 1997, pointed out that from 1992 to 1996, only 92 conventional home mortgage loans were closed on tribal lands. Half of those were on a reservation where the tribe owned the bank. As I mentioned earlier, working with now nearly over 200 lenders, including Wells Fargo, Bank One, US Bank and Washington Mutual, among many others, including small banks, HUD has assisted over 1,500 families with their housing needs by guaranteeing mortgages where others would not.
Section 184 loans have been sold to 18 entities, including two Federal Home Loan banks, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, Countrywide, M and T Mortgage, and the Alaska, New Mexico, North and South Dakota state housing finance agencies. Both the Navajo Nation and the White Mountain Apache tribe are active 184 borrowers. They have developed several projects using 184, including Carigan Estates in St. Michaels, which is near Window Rock, and the Apache Dawn project which you have heard about this afternoon.
On the Title VI guarantee program, we are focusing on developing and strengthening reservation economies on a larger scale than just purely housing. Through this experience, we realize that tribes need more access to banks and other financial institutions.
One of the best ways to gain access and foster this relationship is to look at leveraging public funds with private investments and gain greater economic benefit. The Title VI program is available to Indian Housing Block Grant recipients in need of additional funds to engage in affordable housing. A private lender investor provides the loan and the government guarantee ensures repayment in the event of default. If there is a default, the government will seek repayment through the borrower's IHBG funds.
Page 52 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Title VI projects are usually larger, more sophisticated endeavors, using a variety of funding sources, but that is not a program requirement.
Loan guarantee funds and the balances and initiatives. I have directed the Office of Native American Programs to focus attention on how to improve participation in both the 184 and Title VI programs. ONAP will accelerate its outreach to lenders, tribes and TDHEs and more aggressively market the programs. We have significantly increased our loan guarantee training sessions and included segments about them in other trainings and other public events whenever possible. At every available forum, I am educating the public about the programs and inviting whoever is interested to come and talk to HUD about how the program works and how to improve the program to make it more user friendly.
But those millions of dollars will not be available for an unlimited time. I'd like to address just for a moment now the proposed cancellation of these loan programs.
The Department proposes to cancel unused credit subsidy totalling approximately $54 million which has accumulated in the
Chairman NEY. I'm sorry. What was the amount?
Mr. LIU. $54 million in credit subsidy which has accumulated over the past five years.
These proposed cancellations will enable us to preserve full funding in our '05 budget at the '04 request levels for all Native American programs. The rescissions will not occur until the end of fiscal year '05. Any unused credit subsidy that has been committed by that time will not be rescinded. We ask all here who are interested, we want to use them so that we don't lose them.
In conclusion, sir, HUD respects and supports the progress being made by tribes and their TDHEs in providing affordable housing to Native American communities.
This concludes my remarks, and I stand happy to respond to any questions from you or your members. Thank you.
Page 53 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC [The prepared statement of Hon. Michael Liu can be found on page 139 in the appendix.]
Chairman NEY. I want to thank both gentlemen for your testimony.
Let me just point out a couple of things. Of course, much of the Native American land is held in trustbefore I do, let me ask one question of Mr. Gonzalez.
When you are assisting with housing, or programs on Indian land, do you also at the end of the day have to have the BIA involved the same way as HUD would?
Mr. GONZALEZ. I've got some of our technical staff, but I would say in perfecting our liens and deeds of trust, the BIA does play a role in terms of title processing.
Chairman NEY. There are issues about the trust, the trust status, the type of economic activity sometimes that can be allowed on Native American lands according to some reports, so I wonder how that affects either one of your abilities.
Also, the inspector general report states several things. It says when projects are assisted by multiple programs, there are conflicting admission requirements. So if you're one department, the veterans perhaps have some money for housing, USDA, HUD, BIA. So this report says when they are, again, assisted by multiple programs, there is conflicting admission requirements. So one would require, you know, more for admission than another.
Also, it goes into the TDHEs. Now, as far as the TDHEs, it says something about some of their unfamiliarity with the NAHASDA requirements. So the nature of my question, I guess, is thisand, of course, that's no different than the public housing authorities that will run into some problems. And HUD has to workyou know how the system works with the housing authorities.
With regards to the BIA and this backlog, and obviously you issue X amount of millions of dollars which has not been spent so therefore, eventually, we all know what's going to happen. It's going to be taken. Having said all that, is there something that Congress needs to do to sit down with all the parties involved, whether it's the veterans, whether it's the USDA, HUD, and BIA, or can this be done by internal rulemaking authority, or can Congress sit down and somehow be able to work with you all to make this work for the better?
Page 54 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC And I'm aiming at what's been testified to as a backlog by BIA. Does something need to be done, or will it work out, orany opinions?
Mr. GONZALEZ. Let me just make some observations, Mr. Chairman. The President's Initiative on the blueprint for the American dream is truly designed to increase minority homeownership by 5.5 million by the end of this decade. I think what that did is collectively bring the agencies together, USDA, HUD, and housing programs like the VA and any other agency, FDIC, to provide that counseling and actually bring these agencies together to try to address what are some of the barriers and obstacles to homeownership.
And I'd say at this point that we are seeing some tangible results there. I think in this case, I think what we need to do is actually work with BIA, work with David Anderson, and try to remove some of these barriers to homeownership on the Native American lands.
Mr. LIU. I certainly can't speak on behalf or for the bureau. I will echo some of the comments of Mr. Gonzalez in regards to this I think we are having some success in certain regional offices with BIA where we have seen some best practices from other parts of the country and applied them. For instance, in our office in Ashland BIA.
But I think from HUD's perspective, we certainly would welcome involvement from Congress and working with us and working with BIA to assist in establishing the priorities that we think are important in regards to the need to have all of us working together and functioning correctly so we can streamline and get the process and get the paperwork done.
Mr. GONZALEZ. If I can add one more thing. I know that Michael and I talked about this last week, but, essentially, the One-Stop Mortgage Initiative in Indian country, which is an initiative with Fannie Mae and RD and BIA and HUD to try to really come up with uniformity and processing of the applications, and I think that could be a big help.
Chairman NEY. I think that's an issue we can look at, the uniformity and also what we can do to help in Congress. And then, when we get back to the Capitol, we have a follow-up hearing with the BIA, and I think we need to ask them, you know, this is what is stated as a backlog, why has that happened and what can be done to correct that?
Page 55 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Ms. WATERS. First of all, I would like to thank Mr. Gonzalez and Mr. Liu for making up our second panel here today, and I thank you for providing us with additional information that helps us to understand the complexity of this problem.
It seems to me that we have resources but somehow they are underutilized for the most part. It seems to me that some training has gone into how to consolidate services but, again, it may not be working as well as we would like it to work. One-Stop, that's a great idea, and it seems to me that that should bring all of the entities together and make it easier to navigate these various agencies.
But let me ask about the under expenditure of the guaranteed loan, the loan guarantee monies. It's a little bit upsetting to know that we have funds in these loan guarantee programs that are going underutilized. Whenever that happens, it usually points to a problem in getting people to implement and usually you have to do something about building capacity. If people are underutilizing funds, it means that they need some assistance in being able to learn how to utilize those funds. We have discovered this in some other programs that we have been involved in.
What have you done and what can you do to build capacity so that these funds can be utilized rather than us sitting here and letting them roll out over a five-year period of time?
Mr. LIU. You are absolutely right, Congresswoman. There does need to be action steps, real steps to be taken and not just the recognition of a problem. We have for the first timeand I'm not going to lay the blame on anyone. Part of the buck stops here.
We actually have begun, we have set, now, goals for regional offices in terms of loan volume, stretch goals. We are looking at, hoping to do a couple hundred million dollars' worth of mortgages. If you average each mortgage at around a hundred thousand dollars, that's really not that many mortgages, but if you look at the mortgage market as a whole, it's really fairly modest.
Page 56 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC That in itself has focused attention of our managers in the field on 184. I think even in this region here, Mr. Mecham, our field office director, has done an excellent job in the past six months in really going out into Indian country, alerting tribes to this resource and working with them because now he also knows he's going to be measured in terms of his performance on whether or not his region is going to meet their goals. That's one.
Number two, we have scheduled and have had a series of regional meetings, bringing in tribes and financial institutions, both retail and secondary market, to talk about leveraging of funds, financing, utilizing 184 and Title VI in real workgroup situations. Not just on a very broad basis, but sitting down and trying to work through issues and specific problems which are involved. Now, in those sessions, USDA has been involved as well as BIA. So that process is going on, the capacity building.
We are working with our partners who do provide TA to work with us and also going out and focusing on these programs. So there are action steps going on and we certainly hope to have some real results by the end of this fiscal year.
Ms. WATERS. Well, let me, after I finish this, let me just say that I believe that the lending institutions would be happy to have a 100 percent loan guarantee, or even an 80 percent loan guarantee. And I just know that if this was better marketed or if they really understood it, they would be knocking down the door to get a loan guarantee.
Now, when you say that you go out to the tribes and you're trying to put this all together, I would like to know whether or not the tribes have the ability to either employ or contract with consultants or others who could help expedite putting this together and whether or not the institutions themselves are appointing or identifying folks inside their structures who are dedicated to bringing them more 184 or Section VI or 502 money. Because I think they need to identify somebody inside the institution who will spend time on this, who will learn it and understand it and work with the implementers, whether that's someone coming directly from the tribes or someone that they hire to help them with it.
Page 57 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Can any of the dollars be used from the loan guarantee program to actually support capacity building?
Mr. LIU. We actually have technical assistance and training dollars and we have allocated substantial portions of those in support of the 184 program. The tribes themselves, obviously, do have the ability to use their grant funds to assist them.
I'm engaging in direct conversations with many banks right now just on that topic that you are talking about, the assigning of staff and individuals to support the interest in the program.
Finally, we are doing a better job of learning a number of unique features of 184 which can mitigate a lot of the perception problems that still are associated with loans made on tribal lands. The one specific point is that under the 184, a lender has the option, in the event a loan craters in, in the event of a default, a lender does not, under 184, have to service that program to the end of the process before getting reimbursed. The lender can assign that mortgage to HUD and HUD will take care, then, of the servicing of that loan to foreclosure or reassignment, which is very unique.
Ms. WATERS. How long have you been talking to them about this?
Mr. LIU. We havewell, actually, since I started, which is about three years ago, and then on an accelerated basis, about a year and a half ago. It takes time. It takes time.
Ms. WATERS. Well, again, you have just made it even more attractive in the way you have described, that they don't have to service it, that they can give it to HUD.
I just don't understand, if you've been spending three years on this, or even one and a half years, why they are not beating down your door. I don't get it.
Mr. GONZALEZ. If I may, Congresswoman Waters.
Page 58 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC I just want to say, in terms of capacity building, that our State offices here in Arizona and throughout this region are doing the outreach on Native American lands and communities, and are pretty effective at that. In fact, the Window Rock location is actually an office that services these Native American communities. We also do have an office I believe in Flagstaff, and some of these are actually staffed with tribal members that are familiar with doing business in tribal communities.
I'll say withone point I want to bring out is that Rural Development does have a Five-Star Commitment that it kicked off two years ago, and the focus of that Five-Star Commitment was really to increase homeownership, but it was to lower the guarantee fee, which is from two basis points to about one and a half to make it more affordable. We were looking at doubling the number of self-help grantees, and one of the applicants that we actually went and saw today was the ICE effort. That application is moving into the pre-application stage or predevelopment stage.
But that's an example of what Rural Development is trying to do to improve the quality of life and living conditions in Native lands.
And last, what I heard earlier from the first panel is talking about I believe some of the credit issues, the credit issues in terms of homeownership. We do have a focus here, again, specifically looking at a home buyer education effort in terms of trying to teach people the ins and outs of homeownership and addressing those issues.
Ms. WATERS. As I understand it, and thanks to you, ICE is doing a very good job of that. We were privileged to talk extensively with them about what they are doing and we think that's extremely important. We appreciate the support for that.
I'm going to turn this microphone over, but I cannot help but askI want to know about this $54 million. The last $54 million at risk. I want to know how much of that money is at its five-year point where we are going to lose it? Is that what I understood you to say?
Page 59 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. LIU. Yes, ma'am.
Ms. WATERS. Could you please let me know? How much of the $54 millionor is it more than $54 million that's now at a point where it's going to have to be returned?
Mr. LIU. In the '05 budget request, there is a decision clause that does combine for the Title VI and 184 program amount to $54 million in rescission money at end of FY '05 should the associated credit not be used.
Ms. WATERS. Mr. Chairman, I'm going to give this back to you, but I wish somebody could continue this, see if we can do something to keep from having to rescind these monies.
Chairman NEY. To follow up on that, another thing II won't ask for the answer right here, but if we can also start to dig into why. What went wrong, you know, where the stopping point came or did the money go down and there's a problem with maybe education, or the housing authorities, or was it the BIA ornot to put a finger of blame here, but to find out why the system is coming to a halt. I think that these questions are important, what can we do, and also why is it happening. If we could get downand I know you can't determine on every single case, but if we can get some generic pattern here of why this is coming to a standstill?
Gentleman from Arizona.
Mr. RENZI. Thank you, Chairman.
Two questions, Mr. Liu. I first heard about the project on the San Carlos today that you heard from Chairman Kitcheyen, two projects which are ready to go. She asked passionately if the Phoenix office could receive leverage in order to be able to push through the environmental review process so we could unlock some of the bureaucratic logjam.
Can you help address that? We also have, Debbie Ho is still here, who represents the San Carlos, in case we can put you two together. Could you address that for me, please?
Page 60 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. LIU. Sure. I'll talk to Mr. Mecham and we will have our office work more closely on the issue and take a look at details as to why there is this hangup in the environmental review situation.
I've heard of problems in other areas in the country. This goes back to, I think, the streamlining and the need for consolidation. And in the environmental review process, I think there is a certain amount of confusion among the agencies as well as with the tribes as to responsibilities and as to perhaps work that may have already been done that can be used for the actual project in question. But Mr. Mecham and his staff will be addressing it.
Mr. RENZI. I look forward to hearing back from you on that and seeing some results, please.
While I have you, you heard President Joe Shirley talk about the census issue, the fact that the data has now changed, or the way you gather the data. Is that correct? So we are using multi-racial characteristics. You heard President Joe Shirley talk about how he would like to see us go back.
I'm considering a legislative fix unless there is some sort of a real justification as to why it is that we should allow those monies to be diluted. The Navajo Nation is the largest Native American Indian tribe in America. We have many tribes with 138 members who have a casino that are much better off, yet they get an equal distribution. Or you can have a person on the east coast check that box now and the monies will go there instead of coming here.
Can you help me?
Mr. LIU. Well, Congressman Renzi, as you know, any information which is based on census information which is recognizedwhich has been used since the beginning of the NAHASDA, it's based on self-reporting, whether it's one box or whether it's 15 boxes. It's self-reporting by that individual.
HUD has made the policy call based on recommendations from staff as new information has become available, as it has under the new census where an individual is able to check more than one box. But that is the most expansive and most, most expansive reading and provides greater ability for more, most folks
Page 61 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. RENZI. Sir, I'm with you on the policy. But I'm asking you now, as far as the dilution of monies, can you see here how it's affecting the Navajo people? Obviously, how it's diluted the monies, and the concentration would need to come here.
Mr. LIU. Well, Mr. Renzi, this issue was taken up by the negotiated rulemaking committee, which consisted of 26 members, including representatives from all tribes, from all regions of the country. No consensus could be reached on this subject.
Mr. RENZI. So, what are we going to do about that?
Mr. LIU. Well, since we do recognize the tribes as sovereign nations, and they have been the greatest purveyors of the notion that we should go to negotiated rulemaking, it shouldn't be left to Congress' jurisdiction, shouldn't be left up to the administrations, it should be worked together in a negotiated rulemaking setting, by the lack of the ability of the tribes themselves to come to a consensus on this, I think that's an indication that there's still need for discussion and there is still need for the tribes to interact on this.
Mr. RENZI. I appreciate the answer. We will look at ways that maybe we can address the issue and come up with at least some sort of equal proportion or some sort of formula that works.
Mr. Gonzalez, I appreciate your work. In particular, you have, in your testimony, talked about increases that have occurred. As you can seeand particularly in the first panelthere is a major confidence, a self-determination among the people. There is an independence. And much of this independence of wanting to have homeownership is tied to the fact of the inability of the Navajo people, the Hopi people, the Yavapai Apache, the Apache people to have good, sustainable jobs. Good jobs.
In order for self-determination, in order for the Navajo people, the Hopi people, to be able to pull themselves up as they want to do, in order to be able to help solve the housing situation themselves, not just with government assistance but the real answerI mean, as was said here earlier, we're not going to add billions of dollars to the budget in order to be able to solve this problem. We need economic development, particularly on the Hopi reservation and the Navajo reservation. Part of that is being able to bring and attract developers.
Page 62 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC And I would like to ask you what kind of programs are geared towards attracting developers? What kind of programs do you know of that we could help with economic development. Real jobs. I'll give it back to you. Thank you, Chairman.
Mr. GONZALEZ. Congressman Renzi, I felt that same confidence just during the tour today. This has been my first visit to the Navajo Nation and to the communities we visited today.
But Rural Development, as I see government, it plays a catalyst in trying to encourage private sector investment, and that is our goal. I say this, and I say it quite often, I say that Rural Development is one of the few agencies in terms, when you look at SBA, you look at HUD, that can actually build a community from the ground up with infrastructure in terms of water or waste, in terms of electric, telephone, broadband. Then I go over to housing. It puts people in homes through a self-help program, which is a critical program, I would think here, to encourage that private investment. But to not only build homes, but to build communities. I mean, I believe that's what the people here on the Navajo Nation want, is to build communities. Around that, you start to create economic opportunity and you start to improve the quality of life in this area.
And last, I will say a little bit about the programs. Those are the guarantee programs, and I think what would work well on the Navajo Nation would be our Intermediary Relending Program, which is our guaranteed loan fund, value added development grants, and renewable energy grants.
These are all tools that rural communities, including the Navajo Nation, can use to bring economic diversity and create those jobs that you are referring to.
Chairman NEY. Gentleman from Utah.
Mr. MATHESON. I appreciate both your testimony and I just want to ask a couple questions.
Page 63 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC I get the impression that NAHASDA has been a positive step in terms of housing programs, but I might ask just a quick, open-ended question.
What would be the next step you would suggest from a Congressional standpoint? Are there other improvements you can make to work more efficient, have better results?
Mr. LIU. Well, addressing the guaranteed loan program, I believe thatwe are working on this and we have the mechanisms now through internal rules and procedures, but I think if we could open up the prospective as to the applicability of some of these programs that may not, that aren't always tied just to trust lands, where there is, for instance, in the 184 or Title VI, where there is a significant accumulation of credit authority. Native Americans, wherever they live, have a difficult time. I think there's no question there. And I think if we look at what we might do, and we are investigating that in HUD, of opening up the programs where Native American families, wherever they might reside, trust lands or notbecause there are, of course, millions of Native Americans who don't live on a reservationwe can find reasonable ways, certainly without taking away the focus of the trust lands, but an ability to facilitate helping those families who don't live on trust lands, I think that would be very helpful.
Mr. MATHESON. There is talk about potentially changing the loan guarantee, the 80 percent. Do you have any comment on that, or what the status is of that.
Mr. LIU. The 184 is, of course, at a hundred percent. That is set by statute and law.
The Title VI program, according to credit reform ONB scoring, is worked at currently at an 80 percent level.
Mr. MATHESON. Just to confirm, it has not always been at 80 percent.
Mr. LIU. No, it has not. It had been at a higher percentage and there was some misinformation or miscommunication between OMB and HUD dating back to 1999 until recently and that had to be cleared up.
Page 64 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. MATHESON. So are you telling me that HUD is going to lower that down to 80 percent.
Mr. LIU. Yes.
Mr. MATHESON. I think that's something we ought to look at.
Mr. Gonzalez, if I could ask you a quick question. I appreciate the efforts of the USDA and Fannie Mae in terms of coordinating different products. I wonder if you can talk about what USDA has been doing to promote the preservation of 515 housing stock.
Mr. GONZALEZ. Congressman Matheson, good question. I'll answer that question.
Last fall, former Under Secretary Dorr took an initiative to look at the 515 portfolio and look at prepayment issues, look at rehab of those properties and look at really the market conditions. And, so, we went outside with a consultant.
We are in the stages right now of drafting a preliminary report. We will share that with the congressional members, but we should have the final report on the 515. Again, we are looking at market conditions, we're looking at assessing property conditions, and we are also looking at capitalization requirements to see how they might impact those properties and future new construction.
Mr. MATHESON. Not that I would hold you to this statement, but do you have a sense when the final report might be?
Mr. GONZALEZ. We are looking at fall, if I had to gander a date.
Mr. MATHESON. I guess one thing that's kind of struck me todayand maybe this is echoing what Congresswoman Waters said before. This morning, I go and tour these facilities and I see this crying need, and then I come here and I hear about certain pockets of money or loan guarantees or whatnot that aren't being fully utilized. And, to me, that doesn't add up and it really has me wondering what we can do to overcome whatever the obstacles or inefficiencies that are in our system. Clearly, we are not firing on all cylinders and this isn't working, and I think we need to figure it out.
Page 65 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. GONZALEZ. I just wanted to answermaybe that's a question you wanted to ask Mr. Liu, but in terms of my observations and working in urban and rural settings, working with HUD, BIA, USDA and Rural Development, Fannie Mae, FHOB, and the private sector, we can go on and on, but a coordinated, a really strong coordinated effort there at really bringing those resources to Native American communities and leveraging those with the private sector. And that's the road that I can see.
But to encourage that kind of private investment is going to mean addressing the uniformity and servicing of those loans in terms of issues that we have with others. So that's why I think we can make some ground and begin to address some of those issues.
Mr. MATHESON. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Chairman NEY. I want to thank the panel for being here before the housing subcommittee. And with that, we will go on to panel three. I do have to step away for about ten minutes. Mr. Renzi will chair the subcommittee. Thank you. Panel three.
Mr. RENZI. We need to come to order, please. I want to introduce the third panel who has joined us. Chairman Ney will be coming back in just a few minutes.
Let me begin by introducing the panel. First we have with us Pattye Green, who is the senior business manager for Native American Housing at the Federal National Mortgage Association. We also have with us today Freddy Hatathlie, who is a mortgage consultant for the emerging markets at Wells Fargo Home Mortgage. His office is here in Flagstaff. We have Renee Konski, who is a loan officer with American Financial Resources, Inc. Mark Maryboy, who is a delegate to the Navajo Nation, who I consider a good friend, with the Navajo Nation Council. He is chairman of the Navajo Transportation and Community Development Committee and has done a lot of work for infrastructure here on the Navajo Nation.
Page 66 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Lawrence Parks, a good friend who is senior vice president of the External and Legislative Affairs for the Federal Home Loan Bank of San Francisco. Kent Paul, who is the chief executive officer of AMERIND Risk Management Corporation, who handles a lot of specific issues around insurance and risk-pooling alternatives. June Sabatinos who is the vice president of Ambulatory Care Services at the Tuba City Regional Health Care Corporation, who has an interesting story to tell today. And Russell Sossamon, who serves as the chairman of the National American Indian Housing Council.
I thank all of you for coming today. It's a large panel. I'm going to ask you please to limit your testimony to five minutes, no more than five minutes, so we can move through with a lot of questions afterwards.
Ms. Green, we will begin with you. Pass the microphone, please.
STATEMENT OF PATTYE GREEN, SENIOR BUSINESS MANAGER FOR NATIVE AMERICAN HOUSING, FEDERAL NATIONAL MORTGAGE ASSOCIATION
Ms. GREEN. Thank you, Chairman Ney, Ranking Member Waters, Congressman Renzi and Congressman Matheson.
As senior business manager for Native American Initiatives with Fannie Mae, I assist the regional offices and partnership offices in structuring mortgage transactions on and off trust land. I am also a tribal member of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma.
I want to thank you for inviting me to testify on the state of homeownership on tribal lands and to commend you for your leadership on this issue. Your concern and continued attention are critical to the success of public and private sector efforts to expand homeownership opportunities in the Native American community. I am pleased to be here today to discuss Fannie Mae's commitment to expanding homeownership in tribal communities and to share with you the steps we are taking to overcome the barriers to capital access on tribal lands.
Page 67 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Right here in Arizona, last September we worked with Navajo Nation President Joe Shirley, Congressman Renzi and others in putting together a $3 million Navajo community guarantee initiative. The initiative will help approximately 60 families on the reservations to purchase newly-built homes with contributions from their own funds of $500 or even less. As Chester Carl, chief executive officer of the Navajo housing authority observed when the topic was announced, step-by-step, we are identifying and filling gaps in the mortgage finance system for the Navajo Nation, enabling more families to become homeowners, which is an important first step in the creation of wealth. I want to thank Congressman Renzi for his work and his dedication on this project. This the kind of public-private partnership that brings real results and innovative solutions to housing challenges.
Fannie Mae has also worked with Dallas Massey, chairman of the White Mountain Apache tribe, and the White Mountain Apache housing authority to develop the Apache Dawn Development Community, which included the first-ever use of tax-exempt bonds by an Indian housing authority.
And over the years, Fannie Mae has also participated with the Hopi, Gila River and Salt River Pima tribes, supporting their efforts to provide information on how to prepare for home purchase process.
I would like to briefly mention our internal Native American Business Council, which convenes representatives from our community development and our regional and partnership offices to work together to expand our capacity to make tangible investments that increase affordable housing opportunities on tribal lands throughout the country. We are building a stronger lender base by educating lenders about the unique characteristics of lending to tribal communities. We are teaching tribes how to leverage federal resources to support the production of additional, affordable housing units.
As part of our 2000 American Dream commitment, Fannie Mae vows to invest at least $350 million to serve 4,600 families on reservations. Over the past five years, Fannie Mae has helped over a hundred thousand Native American families purchase homes by providing more than $14.8 billion in affordable financing. On reservations and tribal jurisdictional lands alone, we have invested over $640 million to serve over 7,100 families. We are pleased that we have been able to reach 191 tribes with our financing.
Page 68 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Fannie Mae has also teamed with PMI Mortgage Insurance Company under their Gateway Cities initiative to provide $125,000 in revolving funds for nonprofit development corporations to build or renovate housing on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota, and on the Acoma Pueblo in New Mexico.
Earlier this year we announced our Expanded American Dream Commitment, which will increase our efforts in Indian country even further. Together with tribal leaders in partnership with NAIHC, we are working to create a new Native American Strategic Partnership to bring capital to Indian country, with a goal of launching at least ten comprehensive initiatives in tribal areas. We will also increase our investments to support tribal housing initiatives during this decade to at least $1.25 billion serving 11,000 families on tribal reservations and tribal jurisdictional lands.
Fannie Mae's approach to promoting homeownership in tribal communities is two-pronged. First, we develop the right products to optimize Native American access to homeownership, and second, we expand housing capacity on tribal lands.
In 1999, we launched our Native American Conventional Lending Initiative, known as NACLI, designed to make conventional lending possible for Native Americans on trust land and otherwise restricted lands. Through this initiative, the full range of our low down payment mortgage products, as well as specific accommodations responsive to the unique circumstances of the Native American borrower, are available to lenders working with tribal lands.
We currently have relationships with 112 lenders to make loans to Native Americans on tribal lands. Some of our partners are Countrywide, First Mortgage Company, Washington Mutual, Bank One, American Financial Resources.
Fannie Mae is also working with tribes to support new construction through investments in low-income housing tax credit investments and collateralized revenue bonds. And we have developed a secondary market for development loans guaranteed by HUD under the Title VI. As a result, in 2002, we purchased a $50 million Title VI loan which would help to build 538 units for moderate to low income families in the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma, the largest Title VI of NAHASDA.
Page 69 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Perhaps the greatest obstacle to increasing homeownership in Indian country is the legal framework governing tribal lands. Tribal governments have taken steps to clarify tribal sovereignty and sovereign immunity, particularly regarding business and housing development, but resolving this issue requires partnership from the private and public sectors. Fannie Mae has worked with HUD, the USDA, and Treasury to support tribes in creating standardized documents and model legal ordinances to support government guaranteed and conventional mortgage activity.
We are also working closely with HUD to streamline the 184 process loans. Additionally, Fannie Mae no longer requires tribes to make limited waivers of their sovereign immunity and we also now provide for the mutual consent to tribal court jurisdiction over conventional lending initiatives on tribal trust land.
Finally, education poses a barrier to capital access for Native Americans. Many Native Americans lack an understanding or familiarity with banking, credit reporting or the loan qualification process. And unsurprisingly, they have difficulty obtaining credit through traditional means.
I hope that in hearing these commitments, you will begin to understand the progress that Fannie Mae has begun to make in expanding homeownership for Native Americans. Homeownership is the key driver of economic growth and revitalization. By expanding homeownership for Native Americans, we can not only provide families with better housing but also with the power to raise capital, accumulate wealth and to build a more secure financial future.
I want to thank Chairman Ney, Ranking Member Waters, Congressman Renzi, Congressman Matheson for their leadership and their commitment to expanding homeownership opportunities for Native Americans. You have been champions of developing housing in Indian country and supporting tribal members' efforts to revitalize their communities. I look forward to working with you and other members of the committee. Thank you.
Page 70 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. RENZI. Ms. Green, thank you for your testimony.
[The prepared statement of Pattye Green can be found on page 102 in the appendix.]
Mr. RENZI. We will move now to Freddy Hatathlie of Flagstaff. Freddie.
STATEMENT OF FREDDIE HATATHLIE, MORTGAGE CONSULTANT, EMERGING MARKETS, WELLS FARGO MORTGAGE
Mr. HATATHLIE. Good afternoon, Chairman Ney, Ranking Member Waters, Congressman Renzi and other distinguished members of the committee.
I am Freddy Hatathlie, a Wells Fargo Home Mortgage consultant for Indian country initiatives. I'm a member of the Navajo Nation who works directly with tribes in the northern Arizona area. I would like to make some brief statements on how Wells Fargo's goals relate to Native American lending and respond briefly to some of the issues that were raised by the subcommittee.
Before I continue, I would like to introduce Dave Howell, who is the vice president of community and government relations, and also Larry Price, who is the branch manager for Kayenta.
For more than 25 years, Wells Fargo has recognized that tribal nations have special financial needs. The challenge might be the trust status of tribal land or a tribe's status as a sovereign nation, or just the lack of standard financial information that is traditionally required for project financing. Wells Fargo is an experienced lender in these questions and I believe has a strong commitment to finding solutions and recognizing the unique status of tribal lands.
Arizona is a very important market for Wells Fargo, and I would also note that Wells Fargo operates in 22 other states that are home to nearly 90 percent of the federally recognized tribes. Wells Fargo provides a full array of financial services, including 15 full-service banking facilities located on tribal reservations.
Page 71 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC The subcommittee had asked for specific comments in response to four questions that were raised, and I would like to discuss these in turns.
What initiative has Wells Fargo taken part in or have knowledge of to develop housing opportunities for Native Americans.
I want to highlight some of Wells Fargo's contribution and initiatives to promote housing activities in Indian country. First, Wells Fargo Home Mortgage, with the help of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, Section 184, can originate 184 loans and conventional loans on trust land. Wells Fargo Home Mortgage, through its housing foundation, is the sole sponsor partnering with the Neighborhood Reinvestment Corporation to provide a Native American community development training program. This program started today and will be ending Friday in Minneapolis. The curriculum includes training programs for home buyers and counselors with an emphasis on Native American communities.
Another area that is going to be addressed in the training is how tribes can leverage resources for housing and development projects in Indian communities.
Other contributions that Wells Fargo has been involved in is making monetary contributions to nonprofit organizations such as Navajo Partnership for Housing, Twilight Dawn, Fort Defiance Housing Corporation and Indigenous Community Enterprises. These monetary funds have been utilized for first-time home buyers to assist with down payment and closing costs.
Wells Fargo also has a financial education in place which includes distribution of Wells Fargo curriculum, a training called Hands-On banking, a comprehensive curriculum available free of charge. And we are pleased to, pleased to mention that states have approved this curriculum for use in public school systems. Wells Fargo also sponsors Individual Development Accounts to help low-wage earners to become self-sufficient.
Question number two: Is Wells Fargo aware of the One-Stop Mortgage initiative? Yes. Wells Fargo is and was represented during the discussion. The initiative allowed for a uniform voice to be heard at the tribal and federal level. The initiative outlined the challenges and barriers, and recommendations were made to promote homeownership for Native Americans. Therefore, continuing this initiative would advance the housing initiatives.
Page 72 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Question three: Trust land status. Does this affect the private sector's ability to provide housing activities? Yes, it does.
And what actions do you believe must be taken to encourage greater homeownership opportunities for Native Americans? For Wells Fargo, and with all lenders, we are aware of the process and the complexity that it takes to complete a transaction on trust land. The lenders, the family, secondary market, the BIA and the tribe have come to realize this is not a transaction that we can complete in 30 days which would be more relevant for a traditional mortgage.
Just based on example, being a home mortgage consultant, I have been working to obtain an environmental assessment and it has been taking me about, more than a year to obtain one. And, also, with the lease modifications that need to take place on Navajo, it justyou submit a modification, the clients do, and it just takes a while for this transaction to take place. And, you know, you encourage customers, you know, what you need to do is continue to put pressure on them how we can get this modification complete.
And that's the key document, on the home side at least, that initiates the mortgage process on trust land. So these are issues that I constantly face as I work with Native Americans obtaining homeownership.
Question number four: What changes or initiatives are necessary to encourage private mortgage market to invest in Native American areas.
My recommendations would be to establish and recognize a uniform set of procedures at the BIA level. Example: I have a colleague that I work with in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, which is our processing center for trust land lending. And when I constantly meet with him, you know, we describe what kind of transactions we are doing. And what they do there is they do cash-out refinances.
For Navajo, from personal experience, you know, this was the first transaction that I pursued and I was not able to succeed only because, you know, at that level, BIA had mentioned this is something, a transaction that we cannot do. So I know there are stages right now where they are going to implement cash-out refinances, and I definitely believe this is long past due.
Page 73 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. RENZI. Freddie, can you wrap up, please?
Mr. HATATHLIE. I would also like to add that Wells Fargo Home Mortgage is designing an initiative where HMCs will be certified to lend on trust land. Personally, I feel that this is very important because we have lenders that are out there and that want to do lending on trust land and have no knowledge of what actually goes into lending on trust land. So that's something that's very important that Wells Fargo is working on.
Another initiative, another plan that's going to take place is Wells Fargo Home Mortgagee Emerging Markets vice president, senior vice president will be coming out to Window Rock Wednesday to assess the opportunities that are available on trust land. Sowhich is very encouraging when you have high-ranking people coming out.
In conclusion, I'd like to thank the subcommittee for allowing me to address my concerns. Thank you.
Mr. RENZI. Thank you, Freddie.
[The prepared statement of Freddie Hatathlie can be found on page 111 in the appendix.]
Mr. RENZI. Ms. Konski.
STATEMENT OF RENEE KONSKI, LOAN OFFICER, AMERICAN FINANCIAL RESOURCES, INC.
Ms. KONSKI. Congressman Renzi, members of the committee, my name is Renee Konski, and I'm a senior loan consultant with American Financial Resources.
Thank you for the opportunity to provide comments on the first-ever hearing on tribal land housing for Native Americans. I'm here today on this panel with lenders and others who individually and collectively are working to increase the homeownership where it's needed the most.
My involvement in this area comes from a personal passion and commitment. Lending as it stands now on Native American trust land takes more. And by that, I mean it's more complicated. It takes more of an expertise.
Page 74 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Experience and volume is what builds comfort and efficiency and, quite frankly, we're not to that level yet. American Financial Resources is an Arizona state loan corporation with aboutwe lend in about six states. We have about ten years in the mortgage banking business.
I, myself, have been involved in Native American lending for the better part of four. In those four years, I have made quite a few strides. The strides have been realized through my partnerships and relationships. My written testimony offers many experiences of how the Native American programs are working. It offers a lender's perspective on how the largest obstacle to improving housing opportunities for Native Americans and it offers some recommendations for removing obstacles.
I want to spend just a little bit of my time today to talk about the partnerships and relationships that make it possible for the dream of homeownership on trust land.
The HUD 184 program. I have used the program. I have used the program for a purchase, I have used the program for a refinance. The program works. USDA 502. I have used the program. I have used the program for several tribes. The program works.
Arizona Department of Housing. Through their commitment, through their subcommittee meetings, has given me the education and given me the experience to build relationships that have made communication possible in getting my mortgages completed.
The Navajo Partnership for Housing, a nonprofit organization that does provide families with home buyer education, I also sit on that committee as a board member and a member of the loan committee.
And, of course, my partnership with Fannie Mae. It's Fannie Mae that's stood by me from the beginning when I decided that this would be my challenge and my passion. Fannie Mae has been my partner and my mortgages are sold directly to Fannie Mae.
In closing, let me say that while I feel I've made a lot of strides in these areas, there is so much more we need to do. Better communication and trust and a unique commitment for all of us to come together will provide mortgages possible for more Native Americans and the dream of homeownership to come true. Thank you.
Page 75 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. RENZI. Thank you, Renee.
[The prepared statement of Renee Konski can be found on page 131 in the appendix.]
Mr. RENZI. We will move to the Honorable Mark Maryboy, delegate to the Navajo Nation Council. Mark.
STATEMENT OF MARK MARYBOY, COUNCIL DELEGATE, NAVAJO NATION COUNCIL
Mr. MARYBOY. Congressmen Renzi, Matheson, Waters, thank you for this opportunity to address you today.
As chairman of TCDC, I come before you today to initiate what we hope will become an ongoing discussion between your committee and Native American communities about how to craft solutions to remedy the housing problem in Indian country.
We know the federal government is trying its best, but the 1997 GAO report on Indian housing reveals federal housing programs in Indian country were essentially building ghettos in tribal communities. The passage of the Native American Housing Assistance and Self-Determination Act of 1996 has given tribes new opportunities that have allowed the Navajo Nation to provide low income housing for college students, elderly group homes, traditional hogan-style homes for elders and veteran housing. NAHASDA has given us more flexibility through its block grant to leverage other federal funding for both housing and infrastructure development.
However, the federal appropriations for Native American housing are not sufficient and will never be enough as long as the federal laws do not encourage much greater private sector investment. The One-Stop Mortgage Initiative was successful in implementing the HUD Section 184 program. Unfortunately, not enough mortgage transactions are happening to meet the demands for homeownership on the Navajo Nation.
There are a number of reasons for this. First, we simply do not have enough banks. The Navajo Nation has only one bank partner on the entire reservation, so there is virtually no competition for private investment. In an area that covers 18 million acres, the Navajo Nation has only five banking facilities. Second, lenders are unfamiliar with enforcing mortgage or other debt instruments on tribal trust land. It is not that it cannot be done, it is simply that they don't know how to do it. Third, title searches are very difficult on the Navajo Nation because title records are maintained in one BIA office in Albuquerque, which is responsible for the records on every reservation and pueblo within the entire southwest.
Page 76 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC We urge Congress to amend the Community Reinvestment Act to ensure banks use transactions from surrounding communities to maintain acceptable investment scores. Some Federal Home Loan Banks have standards that result in significantly more service to Indian country. The Navajo Nation is currently served by three Federal Home Loan Banks, two of which do not maximize the opportunities to serve the Navajo Nation. The Navajo Nation requests that it receives all services from the Federal Home Loan Bank of Seattle, which has proven most helpful to the provision of home loan banking service to the Navajo people.
And, finally, there is a question of legal jurisdiction. The mortgage companies who are willing to lend in reservation communities typically want to use state law to resolve any dispute. The tribes, of course, want to use tribal laws. Congress can help tribes and States avoid thorny federalism issues by making private lenders' receipt of federal guarantees contingent on such lenders availing themselves of tribal court when they make mortgage loans on an Indian reservation.
The trust status of Indian land does affect the private sector's ability to finance housing for Indians. However, a few tools to overcome this challenge do exist. For example, the Navajo Nation Trust Land Leasing Act authorized the Nation to issue non-mineral leases within the reservation without secretarial approval. These leasehold interests have value and provide an equity interest that individuals can mortgage against.
However, it is unclear whether under the 184 loan program such a mortgage is permissible. Consequently, the Navajo Nation is currently restricting its own leasing authority to business site leases rather than extend its broad power to include housing site lease.
The federal land status of the Navajo Nation is a hinderance to housing development and homeownership. However, it is an underlying problem that Navajo people, like all Indians, are afraid to talk about because a recent federal case law threatens tribal jurisdiction and sovereignty wherever the land's trust status is altered in any way, including the grant of right of ways.
Page 77 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Congress can be instrumental in forging a dialogue on this important subject by commissioning a blue ribbon panel composed of tribal experts to review federal case law to identify how trust status impacts economic development, including housing markets and homeownership in Indian country. Congress must then be willing to listen to tribal recommendations.
Tinkering with federal initiatives today will not provide homeownership opportunities for Indians unless Congress makes a real commitment to curing the underlying condition that prevents homeownership within reservations, rather than treating a symptom. As elected tribal leader, as a tribal member, but most importantly as a father, I ask you to make it possible for my daughter and all Indian children to realize the dream to own a home on the reservation. Thank you very much.
There are portions of my speech that I did not, for the time's sake, I did not read into the record. I would request that they be approved as part of the record, also. Thank you very much.
Mr. RENZI. Without objection. Mr. Maryboy, thank you for the presentation. Your witness statements and comments will be submitted for the record without objection. I'm grateful.
[The prepared statement of Mark Maryboy can be found on page 147 in the appendix.]
Mr. RENZI. Mr. Parks.
STATEMENT OF LAWRENCE H. PARKS, SENIOR VICE PRESIDENT, EXTERNAL AND LEGISLATIVE AFFAIRS, FEDERAL HOME LOAN BANK OF SAN FRANCISCO
Mr. PARKS. Thanks. That's a tough act to follow your testimony.
Good afternoon. I'm Larry Parks and I'm a senior vice president of the Federal Home Loan Bank of San Francisco. I want to thank you, Congressman Renzi and subcommittee.
Page 78 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Ranking Member Waters for having us here to talk about what we do at the bank and what we have hopefully done to put some tangible results on the table.
The Federal Home Loan Bank of San Francisco is the largest of the Home Loan Banks in the Home Loan Bank system, and we are owned by lenders located in Arizona, Nevada, and California. The banks basically make advances, that's our core business, which are loans, loans to member institutions which are collateralized by mortgages. The members of the banks come from California, Arizona and Nevada, banks, savings institutions and credit unions, and they range in size from the largest banks in the country, some of the largest housing lenders in the country, to single offices.
We have a common interest. Our members use the bank as a source of liquidity in providing funding for home loans. Access to the bank's advances enhances lenders' ability to hold loans, which is very important when you're dealing with character lending as is such in Indian country. These loans are usually loans that aren't easily salable into the secondary market and still meet either the seasonal or cyclical demands of the borrowing public. In effect, access to the bank's advances takes the liquidity risk out of lending to families with the fewest financial options.
The core business of the home loan banks is providing advances. We provided about $500 billion in the economy as of December 31st, 2003, and of that, as of last month, about $112 billion of that is from the San Francisco bank. It's a pretty large entity.
A central part of the cooperative Federal Home Loan Bank system is the Affordable Housing Program, through which the Federal Home Loan Banks provide subsidies on loans or cash grants to build or rehabilitate lower income housing through the member institutions. That's a lot of jargon to say we work with nonprofits as an intermediary with our lenders. This is a program Congress mandated during the S&L bailout in 1989 and it has become embraced by a lot of lenders to help meet affordable housing needs in their communities.
Page 79 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC The Affordable Housing Program provides grants that equal ten percent of our annual income. So the more income we make, the more we are able to give out in grants. What it does is allow the pooling of resources for purchase, construction, rehabilitation of low and moderate owner-occupied and rental housing. The eligibility requirements for the HP grants help to make certain they provide needed funding in a competitive manner. AHP grants can be used to fund housing for families or individuals with incomes at 80 percent or below loan median income in a relevant geographical area.
In addition, 20 percent of AHP funded rental housing must serve households with incomes of 50 percent of the are median income and below. AHP-awarded funding is provided only through member institutions that work in partnership with community sponsored organizations.
The idea, I think, when Congress put this together and the Home Loan Bank System has somewhat embraced is to make sure we not only provide housing, but that we leave an infrastructure of locally competitive and capacity built nonprofit insitutions and communities as well.
Since 1990, the San Francisco Bank has provided $312 million in AHP assistance to 2,400 projects, rental and homeowner opportunities for 60,000 households. Through the AHP, a cross-section of lenders, developers, community-based organizations and local housing agencies work to create affordable housing. In 2003, the last year that's most relevant, the San Francisco Bank provided $36 million in AHP funding through its members to 103 projects that were awarded competitively. Member banks teamed up with nonprofit and for-profit developers to develop project plans and submitted them to the San Francisco Bank's AHP process which scores and ranks them. The AHP subsidy has been used for things like on-site services made available to residents such as daycare centers, counseling and job training, computer learning centers and the need for the subsidy to complete the project.
In Arizona, the winning 2003 projects were located in Pima, Yuma, Santa Cruz, Cochise and Maricopa counties, receiving $5 million in subsidies from the Home Loan Bank. And the member institutions included Bank of America, Canyon Community Bank, Johnson Bank Arizona and BankUSA. Projects included ranged from $20 million in Phoenix for transitional housing for very low income Native Americans and people with special needs, Whispering Pines Apartments, to 61 new single-family homes for low to moderate income, first-time home buyers in Nogales.
Page 80 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC In addition to housing, Whispering Pines will include a kitchen and services for the residents such as employment training and counseling, health and youth programs and child daycare. The Pena Blanca Village homeownership project will include pre- and post-purchase homeownership counseling, a community facility and child daycare.
The primary source of the activity by the San Francisco Bank in Native American communities is through the Affordable Housing Program, and that's why I was focusing on it. Since the program's inception, seven projects on Native American lands have been approved for grants by the San Francisco Bank. These projects provide 282 units of affordable rental housing and 18 units of affordable ownership housing, resulting in attractive, sound shelter for 300 families.
The funding by the San Francisco Bank of AHP projects on Native lands has not been without difficulty, primarily because of the unique legal status of tribes and their lands. The sovereignty of Native American lands and their trust status create legal problems for traditional methods of housing finance. That is, traditionally, lenders place a lien and have the ability to take possession of or sell the property to satisfy the lien. Generally, this tool is not available on tribal lands.
The San Francisco Bank is committed to working with the Native American community to find solutions to issues that plague lending on tribal lands. Differences in tribal laws and sovereignty constraints make an across-the-board prescriptive solution for Tribal Native American lending nearly impossible.
But I do have some good news, as Congressman Renzi well knows, and that was that balancing Native American sovereignty issues and the lien and foreclosure questions that the bank and its members often face is a challenge to provide a mortgage credit on tribal lands, but we were able to meet that challenge.
For instance, in 1999 and 2000, the San Francisco Bank approved direct AHP subsidies for three rental housing projects on tribal trust lands leased to the project owner by the tribe. At that time, the Federal Housing Finance Board's AHP regulations, that's our regulator, seemed to require that a lien be taken to secure any AHP repayment obligation that might arise in the event of noncompliance with the AHP requirements, including the sale or refinancing of the project.
Page 81 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC In order to fund these projects and not violate federal regulations governing the Home Loan Banks, the San Francisco Bank sought a regulatory interpretation from our regulator, the Federal Housing Finance Board, that would clarify that mechanisms other than a lien on the property could be used to secure the AHP repayment obligations. After negotiating with the regulator over a protracted period, in 2003, the San Francisco Bank received a favorable answer, and that's how we were able to fund these projects. These projects are now finally underway.
The Bank continues to work with trade groups and other collaboratives to find creative solutions to address lenders' needs and the rights of tribes on their land. For instance, the Bank works with the National American Indian Housing Council and participated in the development of the One-Stop mortgage process that was talked about earlier to streamline mortgage lending. Obviously, we think that one small stepwe would like to take many more steps but we would like to build from what we were able to get accomplished with the Federal Housing Finance Board.
With that, I thank you for letting me participate and look forward to any questions you have.
[The prepared statement of Lawrence H. Parks can be found on page 150 in the appendix.]
Chairman NEY. Thank you.
STATEMENT OF KENT E. PAUL, CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER, AMERIND RISK MANAGEMENT CORPORATION
Mr. PAUL. Thank you, Chairman Ney and distinguished members of the subcommittee to share my concerns regarding the significant impediments to improving housing opportunities for Native Americans.
My name is Kent Paul, and I am the Chief Executive Officer of AMERIND Risk Corporation, a federal corporation owned and operated by a consortium of Indian tribes and Indian housing authorities, which pool their financial resources to provide self-insurance coverage to protect Indian housing, infrastructure, and individuals and families in Indian country.
Page 82 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC My testimony will address two specific topics. First, the inadequacy of affordable and available insurance coverage for homeowners in Indian country and its impact on home mortgages; second, the important role AMERIND plays in protecting Indian housing and the impediments restricting AMERIND's ability to provide even more protection.
The lack of affordable or available insurance. In urban and suburban America, insurance for the most part is readily available from over 1,600 insurance companies. The opposite is true in Indian country. To date, less than five insurance companies provide products or services that meet the needs of Indian communities, tribal governments, reservation businesses and Indian housing.
Since September 11th, 2001, the affordability and availability of insurance in Indian country has deteriorated. In our society, insurance is the oil that lubricates and protects our economic engine. Without insurance, banks will not loan money; consequently, money for investing in new economic enterprises would stay in the bank rather than becoming risk capital; business owners would be hesitant to conduct business; and autos would be parked in the garage.
Why does the private sector turn its back on Indian country? There are several reasons:
One, perceived lack of profit potential due to remoteness of Indian communities, lack of water and inadequate fire protection; two, insufficient number of insurance agents servicing Indian country; three, misunderstanding and fear of tribal sovereignty and tribal courts; lack of uniform tribal commercial laws or business codes amongst the 550 plus federally recognized tribes and an overall perception of Native Americans as poor, unemployed, uneducated and unhealthy.
In any given month, various federal agencies, lending institutions or Indian organizations will provide a seminar or technical assistance programs on the topics of homeownership, mortgage lending, HUD 184 programs, Title VI programs or tax credit projects. Few, if any, of these seminars or programs discuss the role of insurance and financial protection in homeownership; yet, without such coverage, lending will never be provided.
Page 83 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC In my opinion, this has been one of the major stumbling blocks to homeownership in Indian country. Consideration needs to be given to ''incent'' the insurance industry to target Indian country, similar to what banks were underin the Reorganization Act, or Reinvestment Act, or we need to broaden the 1986 Act to foster more risk pools such as AMERIND.
There is a conflict between the state's oversight of insurance, McCarren Ferguson, and the federal government's role and responsibility of providing affordable, sustainable housing in Indian country.
Some additional recommendations would be to streamline the lending process. Banks unfairly perceive too much difficulty in lending to Native Americans than to non-Natives. There ought to be an established, uniform set of rules or procedures. We need to find ways to minimize the tribes' need to waive sovereignty as part of the lending process. And, last, allow tribes to validate clear title to trust land within their communities with the BIA providing a supporting role rather than a primary role.
The second topic of my testimony is the important role AMERIND has played to encourage homeownership and protecting Indian communities. As I mentioned earlier, AMERIND is a federal corporation owned and operated by a consortium of Indian tribes and Indian Housing Authorities that are dedicated to protecting themselves and their tribal families. AMERIND is owned by 217 tribes and Indian housing authorities, representing over 550 federally recognized tribes from 32 states. AMERIND operates purely on a nonprofit basis. Since its formation in 1986, AMERIND has paid well over $125 million in Indian housing related liability and property claims while at the same time saving tribes and housing developmentHousing and Urban Development Department over $100 million in premiums. We have protected more than 70,000 individual homes, more than six and a half billion dollars in property. We provide better terms, conditions, and coverage at nearly one-third the cost of comparable commercial insurance. We've remained financially stable during difficult market conditions and we provide self-insurance coverage for Indian tribes and IHAs located in rural Indian communities where commercial insurance companies have refused to provide coverage.
Page 84 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC AMERIND, therefore, is an example of the kind of tribal self-determination that Congress intended to foster when it enacted NAHASDA under 25 U.S.C. 4131.
There are three basic impediments that keep AMERIND from doing more, and we are prepared to do considerably more in Indian country. In Indian country, insurance coverage is often unavailable because of the commercial insurance industries' general lack of interest in doing business there. Tribes and IHAs have recently demonstrated to HUD and Assistant Secretary Michael Liu that, but for AMERIND, insurance for federally-subsidized Indian housing in Indian country would be either unavailable or exorbitantly expensive. This finding corresponds to the reasons why Congress, in the 1991 and the 1992 HUD Appropriations Act, chose to support Indian housing risk pools and to remove counterproductive regulatory barriers to their ability to provide low-cost self-insurance coverage for federally-subsidized Indian housing.
The first impediment is a lack of housing risk pool regulations, and AMERIND is the only Indian Housing Risk Pool in existence and has the distinct status of operating as a federal corporation under Section 17 of the Indian Reorganization Act. All other risk pools, which there are more than 400, are creatures of state law and oversight. Congress intended the creation of housing risk pools as an alternative insurance mechanism and instructed the HUD secretary to issue regulations regarding the same. To date, no such regulations exist.
AMERIND has been working with the HUD secretary and staff to reinstitute rules that were in place under the 1937 Housing Act. AMERIND consistently complied with those rules and regulations until they were withdrawn in 1997 with the passage of NAHASDA. Since 1997, there have been no specific rules that address the requirements of an approved plan of self-insurance for Indian housing risk pools, which places AMERIND in a difficult position. Having no standards by which to judge ourselves causes banks, lending institutions and others to question our viability as a provider of property protection even with HUD's recognition and approval of AMERIND as a provider of self-insurance for Indian housing.
Page 85 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Number two, federal preemption of state insurance law. Currently, the greatest threat to the continued existence of nonprofit, self-funded Indian housing risk pools, such as AMERIND, is not state or federal competitive-bidding requirements, but is unbridled state and tribal insurance regulations. AMERIND currently works in 32 states, representing over 500 tribes. If these states and tribes are permitted to impose their conflicting regulatory schemes and taxes on a nonprofit, self-funded risk pool, the ability of those pools to carry out their congressional mandate to provide low-cost coverage for federally-subsidized Indian housing will be seriously impaired.
AMERIND and the National American Indian Housing Council have therefore requested HUD implement a new regulation establishing uniform federal standards for self-insurance plans.
And the last is number three, a memo of understanding. A great deal of effort has been made to develop coordination between federal departments regarding the One-Stop Shop Mortgage initiative. One failure of the initiative has been to recognize approved providers among the various departments. As indicated earlier, AMERIND is the market of last resort in many Indian communities. Very few, if any, for-profit insurance companies readily offer affordable insurance products in Indian country. For this reason, AMERIND is forced to try and respond to the ever increasing need. We would strongly encourage a memo of understanding between the various federal departments, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, that approve the hazard protection afforded by AMERIND. Once specific regulations are established by HUD and AMERIND is deemed to be an approved plan of self-insurance, this approval should be adequate for USDA Rural Development, the Veteran's Administration, and the two largest buyers of mortgages, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.
This concludes my remarks.
[The prepared statement of Kent E. Paul can be found on page 153 in the appendix.]
Page 86 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Chairman NEY. Thank you, Mr. Paul.
Next is Captain June Sabatinos.
STATEMENT OF CAPTAIN JUNE SABATINOS, VICE PRESIDENT, AMBULATORY CARE SERVICES, TUBA CITY REGIONAL HEALTH CARE CORPORATION
Ms. SABATINOS. Good afternoon, and welcome to Tuba City. I'm Captain June Sabatinos, vice president of ambulatory care services at the Tuba City Regional Health Care Corporation.
At this time, I would like to introduce our board chair, Eunice Begay; Lena Fowler, who is a board member; and our chief executive officer of the hospital, Mr. Kirk Gray.
I appear before you today on behalf of our organization and I especially appreciate that you were able to go out this morning and visit some of our people in their homes. I'm going to present a slightly different picture for you today, and that is when people have inadequate housing, at some point or other, their healthcare is going to be greatly impacted.
So, I appear before you today on behalf of our organization, which just a year and a half ago was a federal Indian Health Service medical center. Many of our staff continue their federal service through memorandum of agreement with the IHS, but our hospital is now a nonprofit tribal organization, and it is our goal to become a community hospital one day.
Through the Federal Indian Self-Determination Act, Public Law 93-638, our eight-member, all-Indian board of directors separated from the federal government for one specific reason: To bring decision-making about healthcare needs back to the local level where services are provided.
Historically, the federal government has fulfilled its trust responsibility to provide healthcare to Navajos and Hopis since the 1920s. A little house that still stands on Main Street under the cottonwood trees served as the first, six-bed clinic. The first actual hospital, also on Main Street, was built in the 1950s. Our second and third hospitals, which we still use, were built in the '60s and '70s. Today, we are a 73-bed, acute care facility with more than 60 physicians on staff and a total of 749 employees. Throughout the years, Tuba City earned a national reputation for exemplary healthcare within the IHS system. Many of our medical and administrative staff have been with us for 20 years or longer. We serve a current population of more than 35,000 from 11 Indian communities.
Page 87 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Fortunately, our independent status now allows us the freedom to hire more staff as our needs demand. Just last year, our board of directors hired our chief executive officer who brings with him more than 30 years' of experience in healthcare administration. We have also hired our first chief financial officer, a human resources director, a new information technology officer, a new operating room manager, and many others. In fact, my husband and I just recently joined the staff just four weeks ago, transferring from Washington D.C.
I'm here today to inform you of one of our most pressing needs, and that is housing for our hospital staff. If you travelled here from the airport or a motel in Flagstaff, you probably noted the stark beauty of the changing landscape. Most significantly, you traveled at least 75 miles on one of Arizona's most dangerous highways. Every day, approximately 50 to 60 of our employees make the same journey twice a day. Each travels 750 miles per week just to come to work.
The reason our staff, Indian and non-Indian staff alike, spend three hours a day driving, carpooling or taking our hospital van is because we do not have quarters to house them. I appear before you today to ask that you assist us in acquiring additional housing in order for us to meet the expanding healthcare needs of our Indian population. Currently, our organization has 258 housing units that are 30 to 40 years old. As vacancies occur, asbestos abatement has to be done. That makes the housing safer for staff but it also increases the waiting time for housing applicants. We currently have no available housing, no vacancies, yet 34 current or potential employees are on a waiting list for housing, and that wait ranges from two to six months.
Since September of 2003, it has become common practice for us to house new employees at the local motels until housing is available. Currently, ten employees live in a motel. As a result of this situation, we have lost a large number of very necessary potential employees. For instance, our laboratory currently has eight medical technologist vacancies. During the past two months, we have lost three potential employees because they have families and they just could not bear the thought of having to spend months in a motel with children.
Page 88 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Currently, there are 16 registered nurse vacancies. If you think that the nursing shortage is bad in the metropolitan areas, it's even more difficult to attract nurses to remote areas. Within the next six weeks, we expect five RNs to start employment and they will be housed in local motels until housing is available. During the past two months, we have lost five registered nurses because of our housing, and three of them were very badly needed operating room nurses.
With the anticipated expansion of our facility and services, it's projected that we will require an additional 150 two- to four-bedroom housing units at an estimated cost of $6 million to house current and projected employees. We would love to have a housing complex like the beautiful housing complex that the Apaches were showing us pictures of earlier testimony.
Our experience has been that when housing is available for our staff, they tend to stay in Tuba City for their entire work career. The large number of professionals who have stayed with us for 20 or more years demonstrates their commitment. It's not easy to come to an area like this to provide healthcare. The people who come are very dedicated. They fall in love with the area and with the people.
Our housing shortage severely hinders us in recruitment and retention of staff. Because we are on a reservation here in Tuba City, each governmental institution has its own housing complex for its own employees. For instance, the public school district has its own teachers' housing. The Bureau of Indian Affairs has its own employee housing. As a former IHS facility, we have the housing that was available for IHS employees. Although the Navajo Housing Authority has low-rent housing in Tuba City, our staff does not generally qualify for its use because of their income level or not being Navajo or not being Native American. Because there is simply not much land available locally to be developed, there is no opportunity for entrepreneurs to build rental housing to meet community needs.
Page 89 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC If all of the professionals working in Tuba City working for the various agencies were able to be housed here, it would create a substantial income base for the Navajo Nation and an incentive for business enterprises to locate here.
In summary, community housing is extremely necessary, but housing for our professional staff is equally as important. It is estimated that a 150 2-3 bedroom complex will cost us $6 million to provide housing for our staff. I ask you, is there a way for us to obtain housing for our staff? We generally don't meet the guidelines for housing on Indian reservations. As we expand our healthcare system to meet the demand that we have, it's critical that we have the necessary staff to do this. We cannot meet their demands if we don't have adequate staff. If we don't have adequate housing, we cannot meet the needs of the healthcare professionals.
Thank you for offering us the opportunity to testify today, and we hope that we have provided the committee with the essence of our housing dilemma for healthcarefor housing for our healthcare staff. Thank you.
Chairman NEY. Thank you, Captain Sabatinos.
[The prepared statement of June Sabatinos can be found on page 164 in the appendix.]
Chairman NEY. Mr. Sossamon.
STATEMENT OF RUSSELL SOSSAMON, CHAIRMAN, NATIONAL AMERICAN INDIAN HOUSING COUNCIL
Mr. SOSSAMON. Chairman Ney, Ranking Member Waters, Congressman Renzi, Congressman Matheson, on behalf of the members of the National American Indian Housing Council and its board of directors, I would like to thank you for this opportunity to participate in the first-ever Congressional field hearing in Indian country.
As the only national organization dedicated solely to Native American housing, development and advocacy, you can imagine how pleased NAIHC was when you brought this idea forward. My name is Russell Sossamon, and I'm both the Chairman of the National American Indian Housing Council and the Executive Director for the housing authority of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma.
Page 90 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Today, I would like to focus on the legislative initiatives we hope this committee will support as well as some of the issues raised by the committee in preparing for this hearing.
The passage of the Native American Housing Assistance and Self-Determination Act, NAHASDA, in 1996 was a giant step forward for Indian housing and the amendments passed in the last Congress with the help of this committee moved us forward toward the goal of providing quality housing for Native Americans. However, challenges remain. For the fourth year in a row, the proposed NAHASDA block grant does not include any increase to reflect inflation in housing prices, increased construction costs, or a growing Indian population. The '05 proposal also zeros out the Rural Housing and Economic Development Program, about $25 million that about 96 entities took advantage of last year, approximately 30 of which were in Indian country.
It also zeros out about $2.5 million for NAIHC to continue to provide its technical assistance and training specifically for tribes, which is designed to build tribal capacity so that they can fully utilize the resources that are available and be creative in financing to meet the housing needs of their tribal peoples.
You heard mentioned earlier about the momentum that's growing in Indian country and about the progress that's being made to achieve and bring private financing to tribal areas. And you also heard discussed the real possibility of recision of loan guarantee authority. Now is not the time to rescind that authority. We have seen this progress being made over the last three years, and it's a direct result of all the efforts of the people that have been before you here today and are still before you. These efforts are just about to come to fruition, so to eliminate funding or underfund these efforts would be to set us back on what's already been gained.
If you look at it, the mortgage industry has had to be created in Indian country, and we have identified specific barriers. We have narrowed them down to just a few barriers and we have overcome several of them, so now is not the time to pull back.
Page 91 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Also, this flat funding level for NAHASDA makes it all the more important. The tribes who administer this housing program do it as efficiently and flexibly as possible to meet the requirement for data on the effectiveness of the program to insure that our goals are being met and that progress is being made. Second, the short history of NAHASDA also requires us to continue to amend the statute to improve upon what works and eliminate the parts that hinder the delivery of housing.
We understand that Congress has been frustrated with the lack of hard data to support the yearly budget requests for housing. As was pointed out by the chairman, when Congress looks at what we have, all of this money appropriated and then looks at the spend out rates, we share your frustration. You may be aware that last year, HUD's Office of Native American Programs, ONAP, underwent a performance assessment from the Office of Management and Budget. ONAP received a poor score due mainly to its lack and therefore its inability to measure performance, its lack of data and its inability, therefore, to measure performance. Rather than through performance itself. We had hoped this would lead to swift implementation of data collection systems that would allow tribesto allow for what tribes already know, that this program is working. HUD collects data yearly on Indian housing plans and annual performance reports on such items as the number of overcrowded units, the number of units constructed, the number of housing units rehabilitated.
Unfortunately, HUD still does not have a data base that can pull this data together to give a national picture. This is another symptom of what we see as being a real problem. There needs to be an upgrade in the standardization of not only the computer hardware but the programs used by agencies and that can be accessed and utilized by the private sector at the tribes' request.
While NAHASDA has improved the ability of tribes to serve the housing needs of their tribal members, several requirements of the Act have continued to hamper progress. In response to a call for overall federal housing delivery to Native Americans, Senator Tim Johnson of South Dakota introduced the Native American Housing Enhancement Act of October 2003, which is now cosponsored by Senator Michael Enzi from Wyoming. The bill contains the following provisions:
Page 92 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC It amends the 1949 Housing Act which governs USDA housing programs to allow the tribes the same rights to Indian preference as HUD housing programs. It reestablishes the eligibility for tribes in HUD's Youth Build program. It amends NAHASDA to allow for the establishment of operating reserve accounts for tribes. A technical correction for the treatment of program income under NAHASDA. It also amends NAHASDA to allow for replacing the requirement of charging no more than 30 percent of adjusted income to a ceiling of fair market rents.
As the committee with jurisdiction over Indian housing legislation in the House of Representatives, we hope the Financial Services Committee will support the passage of this legislation before the end of the 108th Congress. This committee has raised several specific issues with NAIHC in preparation for this hearing that were addressed in our detailed written testimony. We are encouraged that two questions have focused on two of the areas that are critical to the success of housing programs, partnerships and leveraging of the first programs and challenges of achieving higher levels of homeownership. With the federal government's main Indian housing program, the Native American Housing Block Grant, only able to produce about 5,000 new units per year nationally, looking to other partnerships is the only way that people can hope to make progress.
And, in fact, the very structure of NAHASDA has a lot to do with an increase in partnership and leveraging. Indian country stands out in its extreme level of need and warrants the investment of resources that can fund a more aggressive and comprehensive approach to solving our problems.
New initiatives in Indian country over the past five years are to numerous to be recorded here, but a list of the partners involved in the provision of Indian housing was included in our written testimony.
Finally, the goal of homeownership is as important to Native Americans as it is to all Americans. Native Americans, with the complications associated with land held in trust and the limited although improving access to financial institutions, have not been historically successful in obtaining mortgages for homes on reservation. We applaud the One-Stop Mortgage Initiative as a step in the right direction and feel that the educational initiatives are vital for both tribes and financial institutions to not only address the complications of doing business on the reservation, but also to see the opportunities.
Page 93 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Before I leave, I'll just remind you of a few things that you're probably already aware of but I think are very important and worth mentioning.
Housing has to be approached on a spectrum. Not all folks are in a position to be homeowners. They are not ready for mortgages. And the very low income people need heavily subsidized housing assistance, and that requires substantial investment. But, it's also our desire to move these folks up on this spectrum of housing, to take them and develop with them their individual housing plans, which is also connected to their economic well-being.
So, while we focus and hear a lot about mortgage financing, let's not forget those who will need more heavily subsidized housing assistance, sometimes as transitory assistance but sometimes as permanent assistance. So I would like to continue to point that out.
Another thing is when we talk about housing, remember, it's the third thing that's listed on the basic hierarchy of human need: Food, clothing and shelter. And as was pointed out earlier, it discounts our efforts in other areas such as education, healthcare, crime prevention and family development if housing is not available. So, what's needed is an adequate investment, federal investment as well as private investment, in Indian country. And if we put up the investment up front, if we can make that investment in the future, it's going to reduce the federal cost burden and will also lead to economic security in Indian areas.
Thank you. I will be glad to answer any questions.
[The prepared statement of Russell Sossamon can be found on page 178 in the appendix.]
Chairman NEY. Thank you, panel.
I had a question for Mr. Paul on the McCarren Ferguson just to clarify. Are you saying that the state regulatory process is hampering the ability to properly do business?
Mr. PAUL. As respects Indian country, McCarren.
Ferguson has an impact on Alaska and Oklahoma because they are people reservations, they are not land-based reservations. So it's tough to distinguish the authority of a tribe to exercise its sovereignty in the area of risk pooling insurance in those two states. So from that extent, it's a problem.
Page 94 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Chairman NEY. As you're aware, we have a federal charter bill that's starting to wind its way through the House committee. Would you see that the federal charter bill, if it passed, would be a help or would it not be?
Mr. PAUL. It would be of help if it has specific information relative to Indian country and recognizes the tribes' abilities to create insurance law.
One of the problems that we see of being the only organization providing hazard protection is a lack of uniform insurance code within Indian country. And with federal help, that would be nice to have that so it's consistent. Or for anybody that does business in Indian country.
Chairman NEY. Thank you.
Ms. WATERS. I would like to thank the panel for the time that you have spent with us today, the information that you shared with us. And I suppose if we had a couple more weeks to spend here, we could have a real in-depth conversation with you about all of this information that you have shared with us today.
I'm going to attempt to ask a few questions of several of you, and I'm going to try and make my questions as concise as I possibly can. And I'm not going to require long answers, and I would hope that you could respond quickly so I could turn the microphone over.
For Fannie Mae, I work very closely with Fannie Mae and I like the fact that they now have the flexibility to have partnerships that can do a lot of creative and innovative things. I want to ask you, given that Fannie Mae has purchased these mortgages on the secondary market and they appear to be working with organizations such as Ms. Konski has identified, because you are so connected to over 112 banks, you have some influence there, why can't you help to get more banks interested in providing mortgages on the reservation?
Ms. GREEN. Congresswoman Waters, I think it is an education process, and that's what we're working through with our Native American Business Council, with our partnership offices that are on the ground working with the lenders on a daily basis, is to educate them more about the process of lending on Native American lands.
Page 95 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Ms. WATERS. Okay. That's good. And what I think probably could happen is given the level of influence you have with these banks, because you're picking up the mortgages on the secondary market, it perhaps would be helpful to identify how you do this, whether it be through holding seminars, or identify maybe 50 to a hundred, have them identify individuals in the banks who will make this a specialty and learn about it so that each of these institutions will have someone that can implement that. I just want to kind of put that into your thinking.
Wells Fargo, how many mortgages have you made here?
Mr. HATATHLIE. Is that in reference to the Navajo Nation?
Ms. WATERS. I beg your pardon?
Mr. HATATHLIE. Reference the Navajo Nation?
Ms. WATERS. Yes.
Mr. HATATHLIE. With the Navajo Nation, recently the Carigan Development Project in Window Rock, St. Michaels, Arizona, we have closed 39 184s and four conventional loans. However, that's fee lands where we can utilize 184 mortgage product.
Ms. WATERS. What lands?
Mr. HATATHLIE. Fee land. It's fee land surrounded by Indian operating area, so it allows us to utilize the 184 program.
Ms. WATERS. I'm really talking about where it's most difficult to do it where it's trust land.
Mr. HATATHLIE. Trust land, we have three transactions that we are about to
Ms. WATERS. I can't hear you.
Mr. HATATHLIE. Trust land, we have about three transactions about to complete here in Tuba City, which would be a purchase of an existing home, construction to perm financing andtwo construction to permanent financing. So three in Tuba City.
Page 96 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Ms. WATERS. I really do appreciate all of the education that you described and the kind of outreach that you're doing, but at some point in time, it really does have to resolve the matter of mortgages in order to move this agenda.
Miss Konski, how do you do it? Can you help us to understandI have heard some contradictions here today about the ability to make these mortgages based on the land trust questions and whether or not there's one law, tribal law, to deal with foreclosures and all of that. How do you do it?
Ms. KONSKI. Well, obviously, that's the first thing I do look at, is making sure that the tribe is familiar with the One-Stop and also approved that initiative.
I'm sure that the jurisdictions are in place should that become necessary. Okay? So that's the very first thing that has to happen.
The next thing that I have to look at is obviously making sure that the family is really ready to purchase, to qualify for that mortgage, whatever product I'm choosing. Once I sometimes know that I have that family ready, I then need to look at the issues that come with the particular land that they are going to buy.
Ms. WATERS. Well, what I'm hearing and reading and I'm picking up on is there are a lot of denial and turndown rates in Indian country, Navajo Nation. And someone told me earlier today that some of the turndowns, when you look at them, they look as if they would qualify for conventional loans but they are turned down. And what's absolutely remarkable on some information I just saw is that the foreclosure rate is very low.
So what is happening here?
Ms. KONSKI. I can't answer that because I don't have that many turndowns. My issues don't come down to the family not qualifying for the loan, not when you have that many products and that many funds available to help families. When you put together a combination of, say, NAHASDA funds or the Relocation Act funds, mortgages are possible. Products are possible. I don't have that many turndowns.
Page 97 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC One of the things I always tell my family when I begin to work is I can only work as hard as they can work. Sometimes it does take time. In my opinion, the challenges for me come specifically with getting the information from the BIA.
Ms. WATERS. BIA is your biggest obstacle?
Ms. KONSKI. Yes. Biggest obstacle for me is BIA.
Ms. WATERS. So it is possible to do. And if we could expedite the issues with BIA, you could do even better.
Ms. KONSKI. Particularly if you could expedite the issues with BIA.
Ms. WATERS. I understand that you had a recent number of closings.
Ms. KONSKI. Recently, as recently as last week, Friday, I did in fact close nine separate loans for the Cocopah Indian Housing Authority and Development, located in Summerton, Arizona. That represented four tri-plexes and five single-family units, all put together with the Cocopah Indian Housing Development as the borrower. The tribe themselves did the interim financing. My 184 product came in and paid off the permanent loan, paid off the interim financing for the permanent 30-year mortgage.
Ms. WATERS. If it wasn't for the fact that this was a competitive business, I would ask you to teach Wells Fargo and some of the others how to do this. But I know it's competitive, but I am really interested in trying to get that information to others.
Mr. Maryboy, your testimony centered a lot around the need for the private sector to be more involved. But as I see it, the private sector needs to want to be involved. They need to want to do this.
Do you have any suggestions for how to get the private sector more interested?
Page 98 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. MARYBOY. The particular area that you are alluding to is a challenge for the Navajo Nation, and I'm asking Congress to establish a bylaw and to establish a blue ribbon commission to discuss or to research this particular area. But we do believe that there needs to bethis is a problem and a solution needs to be provided in this area.
Ms. WATERS. That's because you think there is some fear of jeopardizing trust lands by getting the private sector involved, and I think there was some reference to how they did it in Palm Springs? Is that what you're talking about?
Mr. MARYBOY. Something similar like that.
Ms. WATERS. Mr. Parks, there seems to be some contradiction in your testimony about the inability to get involved in picking up the secondary mortgages, I guess, because of the land trust issue. I think there was some discussion in your testimony that you didn't do it.
So what's the contradiction here?
Mr. PARKS. I wouldn't think of it a contradiction, but what I was trying to do from my testimony was to tell you that we had some limited success but it remains a tough thing because we are dealing with this narrow slice of the Affordable Housing Program. It doesn't mean that the other regulators are necessarily going to pick up on the regulatory interpretation of the Federal Housing Finance Board.
And so a lot of the lenders will say, gee, okay, in the case of the Affordable Housing Program, your regulator was allowing you to take something other than title in sovereignty. It's not necessarily the position of OTS, FDIC, or OCC. So when a lender goes to get examined, for instance, there they still may be obstacles they have to overcome.
Ms. WATERS. So the 38 banks that you have some influence on may have a way to do it if we can clear the way.
Mr. PARKS. Sure. I think it still remains one of those fertile grounds. I think what we have right now is the opportunity to build upon something that's been done through the help of the Federal Housing Finance Board.
Page 99 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Ms. WATERS. Mr. Paul, you referred to a memo of understanding, since you are the market of last resort, and since Fannie Mae has given you some kind of acceptance, you're asking why can't you have this memorandum of understanding because you are willing to do it and lot of others are not. What would you have us do?
Mr. PAUL. Correct. It was nice of Fannie Mae to give us a national recognition. Part of the problem in Indian country is we deal with a lot of different lending institutions. And when we are dealing with small community banks or Federal Home Loan Bank or Fannie Mae, we have to go out and consult with them to try and to get them to approve us because we are not an insurance company. We are a self-insurance pool owned by the tribes.
With the approval of Fannie Mae, which reviewed our financial position and has graciously accepted our Indian mortgages purchased on their behalf in which we provide hazard insurance, we were hoping to leverage that with USDA Rural Development, with the Veteran's Administration and the other lenders so that we have one national letter through a mutual understanding between the various departments so it would preclude us from having to go out and deal with every local institution that loaned money and where we provided hazard protection in Indian country. It would be a cost-effective measure.
Ms. WATERS. Thank you.
Miss Sabatinos, I appreciate your testimony but I wanted to get over to Mr. Sossamon to ask about funding.
You believe the key to our ability to develop more housing is the federal government's commitment for funding. Would you just tell us one more time?
Mr. SOSSAMON. Absolutely. Well, beyond the treaty commitments, which I think the treaty commitments were designed tothe federal government had promised to assist Indian tribes, not take us on as welfare recipients.
What we need is, what you see happening in other states and communities, is enough commitment from the federal government to develop our own infrastructure, to allow us at some point to achieve self-sufficiency.
Page 100 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Ms. WATERS. Infrastructure development.
Mr. SOSSAMON. Exactly. Infrastructure. And, also, as I talked about, the Rural Housing and Economic Development Program, these type programs that allow us to create within our own tribal areas a private sector of our tribal members. Because what draws private investment is return on that investment. And with the small profit margins that our infant mortgage industry has to offer at this point, we need to look closer to our own human resources and develop jobs within that private mortgage industry of our tribal people. And that develops our local economy. And not only our mortgage lending industry can be developed, but our tribal construction, private construction can be developed.
And once we start to generate those tribal businesses, and private tribal businesses start to generate income, then the rest of the private market is going to follow suit.
Ms. WATERS. Thank you very much.
Mr. Chairman, thank you for allowing me the extra time.
Chairman NEY. Congressman Renzi.
Mr. RENZI. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
I want to pose a question to the Honorable Mark Maryboy. The first questionI know we were talking about private investment. Ms. Waters touched on the issue.
Wouldn't it be true that private investors would be able to approach the Navajo Nation if we didn't have this impediment of this business leasing issue? We have heard it touched on today. Isn't that one of the major things we can look at, whether it be legislation to help fix that or working with BIA? If you are approached by private industry, I mean, isn't it an immense amount of time they have to go through in order for them to be able to approve this leasing, Mr. Maryboy?
Mr. MARYBOY. I agree with the statement that you made there, Congressman. I would like to give a brief time to our executive director of NHA, Mr. Chester Carl.
Page 101 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. RENZI. State your name, please, for the record.
Mr. CARL. Again, Chairman Ney and members of the committee, your question is very much to the point.
As you know, the world is ruled by property law, both fiscally and also legally. And so long as you own property, then you have some type of leverage, whether in the private world or the world abroad.
And that's basically what's lacking in Indian country. So long as you don't have true ownership to the land versus the trusts, then you don't have that leverage with a private institution. So, in order to address that, one of the things that we did related to the mortgage industry is we were able to design a mortgage program that is 100 percent guaranteed by the Navajo Housing Authority and we were able to negotiate with Fannie Mae to get to that point. And that guarantee, we use NAHASDA construction dollars, that's construction financing, and then what we do is we take families that have high debt ratios, high 65 percent, take them through home buyer education and get them done to a lower level to get them qualified. We take families that have no credit history but have dealings with pawn dealers or trading posts, take their records and take that into account to get them qualified.
By doing so, we see this as a bridge to take them from the old assistance program to a more conventional setting. And it's going to take time, but the transition is there.
And what we have done, also, with Fannie Mae is develop an offset reserve account so that if there is an unforeseeable foreclosure, then we are able to take monies out of that account and pay off the delinquency. And the Navajo Housing Authority also provides all the foreclosure process, as well.
So, in addition to many of the stories that you hear, this is one of the ways we can provide that bridge to allow the financing world to come in.
Mr. RENZI. I appreciate your explanation.
Page 102 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC I move to Freddie with Wells Fargo. You talked about dealing with first generation home buyers. I know you all have gone out of your way to find methodologies to really push financial counseling, literacy programs. I'm going to ask a question in a minute about why it is that we have $54 million left and we haven't spent it down. Okay.
My intuitions tell me that one of the reasons is because we are dealing with a generation whose fathers and mothers didn't buy homes and teach them how to buy homes. They are having to go through an application process. We learned in the Education Subcommittee that many Native American people never go to college because the application process to go to college is too complicated. And my thought is that maybe it's the same thing for homeownership, that the application process, while regular Americans go online and get mortgages within 48 hours, the application process for Native American people must be a huge stumbling block given if you are the first one in your family who's ever even thought about owning a home.
And so I want to ask you about the successes that you've had with Wells Fargo as it relates to counseling programs or breaking through this impediment, please.
Mr. HATATHLIE. I had mentioned earlier that we have a training program, community development training program for home buyers and counselors and also leveraging and resources, tribal resources, to initiate community development and housing opportunities. That training is in conjunction with the Neighborhood Reinvestment Corporation. So that's how we are addressing that issue, home buyers education. It's designed for tribal leaders, housing entities, lenders, and anyone, practitioners who are involved with lending on trust land. That's how we are addressing that issue.
You also have posed a question as to why do we have so manyso much money available and we are not lending. You know, we could describe how HUD 184 program is set up, how the process works. I have attended training where it says this is what we need to do and, yes, I come back to the Navajo Nation, but what happens is I sit down and meet with a client and we run into lease issues, we run into title status report issues, archaeological clearance, environmental assessments, recordation. By the time you are finished with a client, it is no longer a 60-day deal. It has gone on to two years.
Page 103 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. RENZI. Sixty days beingyou have 60 days to access it and then you can't get it.
Mr. HATATHLIE. No. Your traditional to close a loan and fund, you look at it with 60 days. But with Navajo, being it's trust land, it goes beyond that. And by that time, the applicants have pretty much backed out or you're still waiting for a document.
Mr. RENZI. That's a good question. I can hear Ranking Member Waters.
Renee, how do you get around the 60 days?
Ms. KONSKI. I don't get around the 60 day. First of all, on a fee simple transaction, yes, for Freddie and me, both, I think we both agree, we couldnormal transaction, fee simple land, you're talking 30 days.
When you're talking trust land and you're talking waiting for your environmentals, waiting for your approved lease, waiting for your title status report, your home buyer education, you're not talking 60 days. You're lucky to be talking a year and a half, two years.
Mr. RENZI. So the 60 days is a lock in the interest rate, right?
Ms. KONSKI. No. There is no such thing as a lock in the interest rate when it comes to Native American lending, which is a whole other ballgame. Traditionally, if I am purchasing a house in Phoenix and I go out and I build this home and now I've taken out this construction loan to develop and build my house, along comes my permanent 30-year mortgage. My 30-year mortgage is going to pay off that house and provide me with a 30-year mortgage.
A lot of the problems that I come up against in dealing with both the Navajo and many of the other reservations as well is we get that construction financing in place, we have the house completed, we are ready to put that permanent mortgage on there and give that family that 30-year fixed mortgage rate. The problem is, before we can complete that transaction, we are again at the mercy of the BIA waiting on that title status report. That title status report is telling us, really, who is the beneficiary of that land or that lease. In order for my mortgage to come in and correct that one, I have to have a correct one in place so I can then close the loan.
Page 104 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. RENZI. Is the BIA title office understaffed and that's the reason for the wait, or is it
Ms. KONSKI. It is my personal opinion, upon visiting the BIA offices, and more than just one, they do fluctuate between local BIA offices. That's where the problem is. It's the staffing, it's the budget, it's the
Mr. RENZI. We are going to pay a visit as a resultthis is really an idea that deserves credit to Congresswoman Waters. We are going to pay a visit to the BIA offices and see if we can light a fire.
Mr. Sossamon, I appreciate your testimony, sir. We're going to talk about why we haven't spent it. You and Renee have now talked about the fact that $54 million is left in the kitty and we are going to turn it back to the federal government unless we use it, okay? And we are not able to use it because of the impediments and the roadblocks with the titles and the environmentals.
Why do you think we didn't spend it down?
Mr. SOSSAMON. Why do I think we need to spend it down?
Mr. RENZI. Why do you think we weren't able to spend down the $54 million?
Mr. SOSSAMON. Well, a lot of it goes to what we have identified here today. And I hate to pick on the BIA because they are not here to defend themselves, but the problem isand it was mentioned earlierthat there's a 113-year backlog in getting title status reports. And you just asked do you think they have an adequate staff to deal with that. The answer is no. They cannot deal with processing any kind of title status report request.
So we need to now maybe look at funding to clear up that backlog. And perhaps the way to do it is not add more staff to the BIA, but contract that out to the individual tribes themselves and allow them to establish their own procedures to sort out these records and establish their own title offices that will benefit them in the future. And then it's locally
Page 105 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. RENZI. Stay there. So you're saying forget building an agency in Washington and all the bureaucratic little arms that go along with it. Give the ability of doing the title searches directly to the Navajo or the Hopi people or the Apache people. And then what would do you? You would move the federal oversightbecause it has to be certified, right?
Mr. SOSSAMON. Exactly.
Mr. RENZI. So we would essentially move our people into their location and handle it at the local level? And take the backlog with them, then.
Mr. SOSSAMON. They would have the role of oversight and review, but the actual work would be done right here where the people understand what's going on.
And, also, it goes toward doing what I said we have made great strides towards in the last three years, creating a mortgage industry in Indian country. Not imposing it from outside Indian country, but creating our own mortgage industry.
Mr. RENZI. We are going to make it a reality. We are going to find a way together, bipartisan, to make it happen.
Mr. SOSSOMAN. Thank you.
Mr. RENZI. You're welcome.
I also want to thank Captain June Sabatinos for the visit I paid about two weeks ago to the hospital here in Tuba City. Great facility. We have to bring money home to help. It's one of the best regional facilities I have ever visited, particularly as it relates to the health issues you saw with the children today. We talked, and the reason I asked you to come was a story you told me about the fact we are seeing so much turnover on the staff, the inability to retain good, high-quality people. You talked today in your testimony, three nurses you've just lost in the acute emergency area, if I'm correct. I'm summarizing your testimony.
You also talked about a gentleman you had who was committed to serving the Navajo people who actually lived in a tent for several months. What can we do? Is multiple family housing, if we had a compound for the hospitalmany times, when we go overseas, you'll see American interests represented, hospital staffs, teaching staffs, you'll have a housing compound.
Page 106 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Is that kind of a formula possible?
Ms. SABATINOS. Yes. That is what we need, is a housing compound or a complex. We have very limited land that we could put this building on, and we would certainly need the funding to do it, but that would basically meet the needs of our facility.
Mr. RENZI. Thank you.
Finally, I want to point out the good work of the Indigenous Community Enterprise. I know, Freddie, you have worked with them, you serve on the board. We visited a hogan today, we saw the ability for you all to use small diameter wood.
Can you just expand on that just a little bit and talk about some of the, maybe some of the impediments or where we can assist in helping you produce more units for the people? And I also heard that you're also thinking about using multi-family or you're expanding your product base.
Mr. HATATHLIE. Being a board member for Indigenous Community Enterprises, presently, right now, I have tried working with them where we could go through the 184 program. And being that the hogan octagon shapes are not your traditional homes, you know, that HUD would finance, you know, being that it's non-conforming, we had discussions with that to see how we could utilize the log hogans to finance, but we were unable to do that.
We met with the marketing person for Southwest Traditional Log Homes and also the underwriters of HUD, and that's something that's still being discussed. I'm also, Indigenous Community Enterprises is working with a local chapter how they could establish an elderly compound type of homes, and that still is in the works also, too.
So they have really stepped up with the limited funds that they have been utilizing on their part.
Mr. RENZI. Thanks, Freddie.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Page 107 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Chairman NEY. Mr. Matheson.
Mr. MATHESON. Thank you.
This may circle back to an issue we talked about, sort of at the start of the hearing, relative to utilities reaching specific housing.
Mr. Maryboy, I noticed in your discussion about the need for the blue ribbon commission to address these issues and the impact on sovereignty and whatnot, you mentioned something that applies to something as simple as a utility right-of-way. Is that one of the impediments to getting electric lines strung to these houses today.
We were in two different locations today, one was not in the Bennett Freeze, where there is housing and there is local distribution lines within a stone's throw away, and they are not hooked up. Did I understand your testimony that certain rights-of-way, is that one of the impediments?
Mr. MARYBOY. I think the commission could try to oversee the whole array of projects that could be included, utility, roads, and the like.
Mr. MATHESON. It struck all of us as a pretty strange thing to see the electrical lines so close and not hooked up.
Miss Konski, I had a couple questions for you.
You mentioned that a fee simple transaction could be done in maybe three days and then trust lands, two years. We talked about the BIA title issue, and you also mentioned there is the environmental and you're stuck waiting on that for a substantial amount of time.
Are there other factors that cause the delay beyond those two?
Ms. KONSKI. Utilities can sometimes cause a delay. In getting my utilities to my house, they have in the past caused me a small delay. That's a fact.
Mr. MATHESON. You mentioned you completed, was it nine transactions a week ago?
Page 108 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Ms. KONSKI. Correct.
Mr. MATHESON. And they were all 184 loans?
Ms. KONSKI. All 184s.
Mr. MATHESON. Were all of those 100 percent guaranteed 184?
Ms. KONSKI. The 184 is not a full 100 percent guarantee, but it's very close.
Mr. MATHESON. If the percentage of that were to have been dropped lower, would that put those transactions in jeopardy?
Ms. KONSKI. No. It's not my belief it would have. You've got the housing authority, who has just built the houses and put all that money out to build all those homes. They are going to take families, put families in that are going to qualify and assume those mortgages in the near future. If they have the money to go out and build those homes and they are coming in to, say, a 98 percent guaranteeand I'm talking about getting a mortgage for, the housing authority themselves
Mr. MATHESON. I'm just asking what if it goes lower, to 90?
Ms. KONSKI. Oh, what if it getsit does get lower. An example of that is a USDA loan. That is a 90 percent guarantee.
Mr. MATHESON. Maybe I'm having trouble articulating my question.
Ms. KONSKI. Are you talking about guaranteeing my mortgage?
Mr. MATHESON. I'm talking about 184 loans, at the guarantee levels that you have now for those transactions you've done. If we are limited, if the word comes out where the 184, those are not allowed to be guaranteed at that level any more, it has dropped downI don't know if it's 80 or whatever
Ms. KONSKI. Okay. Proposed.
Page 109 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. MATHESON. Is that going to put those transactions in jeopardy?
Ms. KONSKI. I believe it would have an impact, yes.
Mr. MATHESON. Thank you.
Mr. Parks, I guess I get the impression that the different Federal Home Loan Bank offices have some level of autonomy. Mr. Maryboy's own testimony indicated they like the Seattle Home Loan Bank.
Is there communication between the different offices about products and approaches? Do you talk to Seattle?
Mr. PARKS. What you've got to remember, the Home Loan Banks are all separate entities. The only thing, we are cooperatively owned by our own, individual membership, and the only thing we do is issue debt collectively. There are separate boards, they are actually separate institutions. So you can think of them as 12 separate institutions that have no interaction.
We do talk, and I think what happened was, in Seattle's case, they at one point were more comfortable with the fact that, subject to their regulator's interpretation, with taking a risk. We tend to be a more conservative bank and the culture of our board of directors is if we don't have some certification, we are uncomfortable with that.
So we pursue the route of getting some kind of certification and creating some type of certainty that if, in the worst-case scenario, our regulator is going to find that's okay. And that's what we have found. So that's why they are able to do more.
And everybody has different relationships. We, our relationship to the Navajos is obviously strengthening. Our relationship with other tribes is stronger than with others.
Mr. MATHESON. Well, I appreciate the panel.
Page 110 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. Chairman, I'll give it back.
Chairman NEY. What we will do is I will also note for the record that members may have additional questions for the panel and they may wish to submit them in writing.
Without objection, the hearing record will remain open for 30 days for members to submit written questions to the witnesses and place their response in the record.
And also for the record, if I can read Mr. Johnson's handwriting, bear with me, these will be submitted into the record by these individuals, organizations, or tribes. Rosebud Sioux Tribe, Navajo Partnership for Housing, Arizona Department of Housing, Cameron Chapter of Housing, the testimony of the Blue Tribal Housing Authority, Choctaw Nation Housing Authority, Spirit Lake Housing Authority, Housing Authority of the Village of Winnebago, Lower Brule Sioux Housing Authority, Trenton Indian Housing Authority and Crow Sioux Housing Authority.
[The following information can be found on pages 236, 222, 213, 217, 219, and 235 in the appendix.]
Chairman NEY. Let me see if I can make a few closing remarks before turning it over to my colleagues. Let me just say that I appreciate all three panels and I just think the testimony was well worth the trip here. We see things in D.C., we read about things and we get research, but being here and visiting, going to the locations today, but also being able to get your input today, and the other two panels, is invaluable.
Obviously, we are going to have to go back and look at issues, and I think BIA, it's very clear, is going to have to be looked at. There is also legislation that is pending in Congress where it's going through the system. The federal charter is going to be also important for us to look at as to how it applies, which you've raised an issue has not been discussed at least to my knowledge in Washington. If we do a federal charter, how does it apply to the Indian nation. I think we need to be cognizant of that.
Page 111 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Home Loan Banks, there is the question of the implication for the entire country, but also the Indian nation. And I think also with Fannie Mae and the flexibility for programs, and if, in fact, some of the legislation being talked about takes that away from Fannie Mae, how this could affect, also, the Indian nation and their ability to devise programs.
So I think there is a lot of other issues now that have come to the surface, but this has been the high note for me, well worth the trip to be here.
Let me also once again thank the entire staff of Financial Services, Tallman Johnson, Cindy Chetti, Jeff Riley, Jaime Alisiga, and also Congressman Renzi's staff, Alix Crockett and Joann Keene, and most of all my colleagues and WalterI'm sorry, Walter Phelps.
But let me just say that Congressman Matheson, I appreciate all of your work on this issue, your diligent work. And I can't speak enough for our ranking member, Ms. Waters of California, who has been so patient to go through how many hearings in the House subcommittee and yet still has a smile. So her work has been invaluable and her concern and caring for many, many issues and, obviously, this one in particular. And also Chairman Mike Oxley and Ranking Member Barney Frank, who also made this possible.
And last but not least, my colleague Congressman Renzi, who makes all of us aware every day in the U.S. Capitol about concerns of the Indian nation. I appreciate his idea to do this.
Ms. WATERS. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. First, I'd like to thank you for holding this hearing. This absolutely could not happen without you. Your willingness to come here and to put your staff to work, to organize this hearing, is commendable, and I'm delighted that I have had the opportunity to be here today to learn more and to understand better what we can do in Congress. So, again, I would like to thank you.
I'd also like to thank Congressman Renzi, because I know that it's his advocacy and his request to you that caused you to respond. We have talked about this, Congressman Renzi and I, on any number of occasions. We have talked about the plight of Native Americans. He's described this to me in conversations, but I had to come here to see it, and I thank you for giving me that opportunity. I'm delighted to be here with you.
Page 112 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Let me just say to our audience here today, I have traveled extensively and I have traveled extensively to many third world countries, and what I saw today is similar to what I've seen in some of the most impoverished areas of the world. What I saw today is synonymous with what I saw when I first visited the ''Bountosawns'' in South Africa, and it's appalling. It's unacceptable, and we must use whatever power we have in Congress to change the plight of Native Americans here and everywhere.
I would like to just close by saying I represent a rather diverse district. One area of my district is a poor area, but it is heaven compared to what I saw here today. When you hear discussions about South Los Angeles and people who are in poverty, I want to tell you, again, when you compare it to what I saw today, it's almost as if those people who are described as living in poverty live in luxury. This is absolutely unconscionable.
So being here today helps me to know how I can better support changing the ability for Native Americans and for the Navajo Nation to do something.
What's encouraging about all of this is the resources that are here. We have the possibility to do this. It appears that there's too much bureaucracy. I think perhaps there are some people who may have gotten a little bit soft on the job and they aren't doing everything that they could do. I don't know. I don't know, but I think we need to figure that out. And, clearly, the Bureau of Indian Affairs should have been here today. The fact that they are not here means that I know Mr. Renzi and my chairman is going to not only talk about paying them a visit, but maybe helping them to understand that if you don't utilize the power that's given to you, maybe you don't need to keep it. So, I'll just put that out there.
So with that, I'd like to give the microphone back because I know Mr. Matheson, Congressman Matheson has a lot that he would like to say. On the way here, he was describing to me his challenges and how he borders this entire state and what he's trying to do. So with the two of these gentlemen working together representing both sides of the aisle and engaging all of us, I am extremely optimistic, no matter how difficult it gets.
Page 113 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Again, I would like to thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. MATHESON. Well, I don't have a lot to say, fortunately. But I often like to tell people that it's always good to get out of Washington D.C. And spend time in the real world, and I think that's what we have had a chance to do today. And I think it's been a great experience for me and I suspect for everyone else here on the committee.
But I want to thank all of you for coming today. I think it's really important that in this system of democracy, we participate, and I thank you for taking your time to do that. I have learned a lot today and I want this process to continue.
But it's my pledge, and I think I speak for everybody, it's our pledge that we are going to work the best we can to make progress on all these issues.
Chairman NEY. Thank you. We will give closing comments to Congressman Renzi.
Mr. RENZI. Thank you for letting me wrap up.
I want to begin by thanking everyone here who has sat through a four-and-a-half, five-hour hearing, those of you who came out from the community, taking time away from your families and businesses and obligations to share with us, all the panels and their testimony, some of it very riveting. It's true patriotism to engage in the great debate, and I thank you very much.
I have to thank Chairman Ney. The idea of making history, him allowing us to come out here, him making history and bringing all of us with him, to have for the first time Congress address Native American Indian housing issues in the field truly is historic. It took his leadership to get it done.
I have been to many hearings in the past. I have never been to a hearing where Republicans and Democrats came together so well. I want to thank Ranking Member Congresswoman Maxine Waters from California. I was so surprised to think that we got together to see the conditions because it's so severe out there that over the years to come, as we're wrestling with this, whether you be Republican or Democrat, or who is in control of the House or who is in powerI whispered to Ranking Member Waters that maybe some day, you know, if you guys are in power, at least you'll have been able to see firsthand the conditions. So it doesn't matter who is in power. We will work together to get through the issues.
Page 114 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC And my neighbor to the north, Jim Matheson, Congressman Matheson, has been a great friend in Washington. We work hard together on the issues as it relates to housing. He is taking such a wonderful lead on the issues relating to uranium. We are looking to have a workshop together in Washington as it relates to those issues.
If you would allow me, please, there is a couple people I want to acknowledge. I want to acknowledge the members of the Assisted Independence Program here in Tuba City. I know you have strong concerns today. I wish I had done more to acknowledge you earlier on. I'm thankful I had a chance to talk to you briefly. My Window Rock office, Walter Phelps, my personal assistant Joann Keene and myself personally will meet you with and in future endeavors we would like to hear your testimony publicly.
I also want to acknowledge a friend who isa couple friends who are with us today. As many of you are aware, we lost Lori Piestewa, the first Native American ever killed in combat. And Terry and Percy Piestewa and Lori's two children, Brandon and Carla, have sat through the last hour and a half hour of this hearing. They are beautiful people. Terry and Percy, if you would stand up and be acknowledged.
I think Lori would be proud that we are here today in her hometown. Lori represents the warrior spirit of the Hopi and the Navajo people. The women of their ancestry would stand next to their men and fight. They did not flee. And Lori represents that tradition and she deserves to have a mountain named after her, let me tell you.
Also, in closing, let me say this. I want to say thank you to Mr. Andrew Todd, who is the superintendent of the Greyhills High School where we stayed today. And he was such a great hope, showed great hospitality.
And, finally, to the staff of the Navajo Housing Authority for your housing, your refreshments, the information booths you set out today. Thank you all very much for being with us today. In my opinion, you are all true patriots. May God bless you. Thank you.
Page 115 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Chairman NEY. We are adjourned.
[Whereupon the subcommittee was adjourned.]