Representative Deb Haaland (D-NM) and Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) released a proposal for an upcoming bill, the “Honoring Promises to Native Nations Act,” which aims to address the issues outlined in a U.S. Commission on Civil Rights (USCCR) report, Broken Promises: Continuing Federal Funding Shortfall for Native Americans (see Memo, 2/25). Senator Warren and Representative Haaland are seeking feedback from tribal governments and citizens, tribal organizations, and other stakeholders about the proposal, which includes recommendations for improving housing in tribal areas.
Native Americans in tribal areas have some of the greatest needs for decent, accessible, affordable homes in the U.S., but federal investments in affordable housing for American Indians and Alaska Natives have been chronically underfunded for decades. Basing their bill on the findings from the USCCR report, Representative Haaland and Senator Warren propose that the Indian Housing Block Grant program, the main federal housing resource in tribal areas, be fully funded, inflation-adjusted, and mandatory – i.e., not subject to the annual budget process (similar to Social Security and Medicare). The “Honoring Promises” act also calls for allowing tribal governments to participate in the Housing Choice Voucher program, simplifying and expanding pertinent loan guarantee programs, and strengthening and expanding the Tribal HUD-Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing (HUD-VASH) program. The lawmakers ask for feedback and suggestions to ensure these federal programs address Native American housing needs while respecting sovereignty.
The “Honoring Promises” legislation also includes policy proposals related to criminal justice and public safety, health care, education, and economic development. The proposal recommends several systemic changes to address chronic underfunding of programs designed for Native communities, to strengthen tribal sovereignty, and to honor the unique government-to-government relationship between Tribal Nations and the federal government. Such provisions include creating new offices and positions focused on tribal affairs within federal agencies like the Office of Management and Budget and the Department of Interior and establishing a permanent White House Council on Native American Affairs.
Learn more about the “Honoring Promises to Native Nations Act” at: https://tinyurl.com/y2j9nmm4