$3 Million HUD Grant Targets Tribal Housing
By Ernie Tiger
HOLLYWOOD - The Seminole Tribe of Florida recently received a $3.15 million grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to expand housing on Seminole reservations.
The five-year housing plan, given out annually to federally recognized tribes, will also be used to help fight crime and improve water and sanitary facilities, as well as fund privately financed programs that are needed to repair or build housing.
The Tribe's goals over the next five years:
Continue providing affordable, quality housing to individual families. This will help individuals achieve a greater degree of self-sufficiency.
Evaluate and expand current and future Seminole reservation and trust land communities by addressing their unique aspects and needs in the areas of infrastructure, facilities and services, geographical locations, economics, and social customs.
For the past 35 years, since the creation of the former Seminole Tribal Housing Authority (STHA), more than 80 percent of all housing constructed on Tribal lands was made possible through HUD funding. Other sources of housing development monies have been the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA), the Housing Improvement Program (HIP) and a small number of direct loans to individual Tribal members from Tribal loan programs.
Despite the consistent development of the residential areas on most of the Seminole communities, current waiting lists reflect a persistent need for additional housing on all sites.
However, the desire to live on Seminole Tribal reservation or trust land stems more from necessity than choice. Tribal members are in essence citizens and residents of a sovereign Tribal nation. Such "citizenship" requires that members live on reservation or trust land, in order to maintain voting privileges.
In addition, the Tribal government and its affiliated businesses are the primary employer of Tribal members. Whether the Seminole community is located in an urban or rural setting, the Tribe and its enterprises employ at least 90 percent of those Tribal members who are currently working.
While job opportunities may exist elsewhere in the public and private sector, working for the Tribe is viewed as an investment in oneself, the Tribe and future generations.