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CCRH Responds to Governor's Tribal Apology


June 24, 2019

Governor Gavin Newsom

1303 10th Street, Suite 1173

Sacramento, CA 95814

Dear Governor Newsom,

The California Coalition for Rural Housing applauds your executive order, and the heart-felt apology at the blessing for the future site of the California Indian Heritage Center. The California Coalition for Rural Housing (CCRH), is the oldest, statewide affordable housing advocacy organization in the country and has been directly involved in addressing tribal housing needs in California since the mid-2000s. While CCRH has worked diligently with several tribes, with minimal resources that have been cobbled together over the past decade, we see a great opportunity to take a leap forward in addressing the housing crisis that faces our state's tribal population.

It is time to shift from a stop-gap approach in addressing tribal housing needs in the state and move toward substantive improvements in resources for California's underserved Native American population. With that goal in mind, CCRH recommends the following actions:

  • Reconstitution of the California Indian Assistance Program (CIAP). Over the 32 years of CIAP operations, it leveraged federal HUD, EPA, USDA, and State funds to service federally recognized and non-federally recognized tribes in the state with a budget ranging from about $1.3 million to $20 million in a given program year. A conservative estimate of the total CIAP financial impact over its duration was $300 million, with about half of that directed toward housing projects. Much to the disappointment of the tribal community, the program was largely discontinued in 2006 and shuttered in 2008. Moreover, the establishment of a Tribal Housing Office, to consolidate and focus on the housing and community development needs of tribal communities.

  • Retention and expansion of the Tribal Apportionment in the Low-Income Housing Tax (LIHTC) Credit program. The first round of 2019 saw five (5) tribal projects competing for a tribal apportionment of $1 million in LIHTC. Since the inception of the tribal apportionment in 2014, there has been at least one tribal award, and up to three applicants each round. In order to serve a broader base of tribal applications, consideration should be given to establishing the tribal apportionment outside of the rural set-aside and increasing the apportionment to not less than $3 million,

  • Establishing the goal of funding at least one tribal project or program in each of the housing programs administered by the California Department of Housing and Community Development, where appropriate. Also, conduct a wholesale review to remove obstacles that prevent tribal communities from accessing these sources due to land use, land title, and securitization issues.

  • Make a duly constituted governing body of an Indian reservation or Rancheria eligible for the direct apportionment and, if located in a nonentitlement county, the competitive portion of funding from the Building Homes and Jobs Act (SB 2, Atkins, Statutes of 2017). The preamble of the act cites the concerning conditions of housing in tribal communities yet affords tribes no access to any of the proceeds from the Act.

Housing is at the intersection of so many of the social and economic issues that affect our most vulnerable populations. One-third of tribal residents live below the federal poverty rate.

According to a survey of tribal housing administrators and leaders, between 15 and 20 percent of home on tribal land require major physical improvements and need to be modernized, substantially rehabilitated, or completely replaced. According to the 2009-2013 American Community Survey, 8.8 percent of units on tribal land lacked complete plumbing and 6.5 percent lacked complete kitchens. To put this in perspective, only 0.5 percent (17 times less) of all occupied units in California lacked complete plumbing and 1.2 percent (5 times less) lacked complete kitchens.

To be sure, there is no magic wand to reconcile the issues of the past. But, as an example, in 1998 the parliament of the State of New South Wales in Australia passed the NSW Aboriginal Housing Act that, among other housing responsibilities, established the Aboriginal Housing Office (AHO) to facilitate the delivery of housing and housing-related programs across the state. The State AHO has 78 employees and an annual budget of $78 million (A$) that serves an indigenous population of approximately 240,000 (or 2.9% of the 8 million residents of the State). The GDP of New South Wales is less than one-fifth of that of California. In comparison, California has a population approaching 40 million, including 360,000 Native Americans and no dedicated office or staff for addressing the dire housing and community development needs of our Native population.

It is time to deploy concrete programs and resources to address the relegation of tribal communities to the inequitable task of overcoming the same challenges facing all of California's communities in meeting housing demand, in addition to supplying this housing on our State's most undesirable land - lands fraught with inadequate infrastructure, remote access to community services, and topographically challenging construction sites. Now is the time to establish solid goals, real programs, and vital infrastructure and transportation resources to close the gap created by a long history of dispossession and get on with job of reconstitution in a meaningful manner that allows tribes to join in the solution to provide safe housing for their communities.

Robert Wiener Executive Director

Cc: Senator Toni G. Atkins, President Pro Tempore, District 39

Tia Boatman-Patterson, Executive Director, CalHFA , Senior Advisor on Housing to the Governor

Phil Bush, Executive Director, Nevada California Indian Housing Association Assemblymember David Chiu, District 17

Jason Elliot, Chief Deputy Cabinet Secretary Assemblymember Eduardo Garcia, District 56 Fiona Ma, Treasurer

Christina Snider, Tribal Advisor to the Governor

Ben Metcalf, Executive Director, Housing and Community Development Department Jamie Navenma, Executive Director, Norther California Indian Housing Authority Assemblymember Anthony Rendon, Assembly Speaker, District 63

Dave Shaffer, Executive Director, All Mission Indian Housing Authority

Mark Tollefson, Deputy Secretary for Transportation, Housing, and Homelessness Senator Scott Wiener, District 11

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