Published March 6, 2017
GALLUP – Sanjay Choudhrie, the director of homelessness prevention organization CARE 66, has always viewed developing affordable homes as a top priority.
So, when the opportunity presented itself for him to renovate the Lexington Hotel and the recently opened affordable apartment complex, Hooghan Ho’zho in downtown Gallup, he jumped at the chance.
But, in order to make these projects happen Choudhrie looked toward none other than Navajo Housing Authority (NHA) to be a huge funding source. NHA ended up giving CARE 66 at least $8 million of Native American Housing Assistance and Self Determination Act (NAHASDA) funds.
“NAHASDA funds were crucial,” said Choudhrie. “NAHASDA is so flexible. The perception has been that the housing authority isn’t allowed to build off Indian lands … How come we were eligible to build Hooghan Ho’zho and remodel the Lexington?”
It’s no secret that for a few years now NHA has been under scrutiny for the millions of NAHASDA dollars that did not go toward building much-needed homes on the Navajo Nation.
But Choudhrie said the agency gets little credit for the good things it is doing, including off the reservation.
“I think the way that NHA can put itself in a good light is addressing the low income and working families that live in the border towns, particularly Gallup,” said Choudhrie. “My sense of Gallup is that a significant chunk of Gallup Navajos are middle-class professionals, who support and get the work done on the Nation.”
Editor’s Note: This article first appeared in the Navajo Times. Used with permission. All rights reserved.