Michigan Indian Legal Services Publishes Michigan Tribal Landlord Tenant Manual

Published August 1, 2018

TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. —  Michigan Indian Legal Services (MILS), a statewide nonprofit organization serving Native Americans, published its Michigan Tribal Landlord Tenant Manual today. The manual provides an overview of federal housing laws, including the Native American Housing Assistance and Self Determination Act of 1996 (NAHASDA), and the housing laws and policies of each of the 12 federally acknowledged tribes in Michigan. In addition, MILS has created brochures aimed at tribal housing tenants and court forms that tenants can use in tribal court eviction proceedings. By providing an in-depth manual for tribal housing practitioners and informational brochures and court forms for tribal housing tenants, MILS is helping to fill the gap in educational resources regarding tribal housing in Michigan.

These resources are available at  https://drive.google.com/open?id=1x1bWdrC6RNJ-HJu7OJNOu5lk1rNDow0h and on the MILS website at http://www.mils3.org/.

Before NAHASDA was enacted in 1996, Indian housing authorities ran Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) public housing programs under the United States Housing Act of 1937. NAHASDA changed the way HUD provided housing assistance to Native Americans by creating a block grant program that awarded funds directly to tribes. Although tribal housing programs are still considered public housing, many of the legal provisions governing other HUD programs do not apply. Instead, tribes are given the opportunity to develop their own laws, plans, and policies (subject to HUD approval). The Michigan Tribal Landlord Tenant Manual provides information on these intersecting tribal and federal laws that govern housing issues on reservations in Michigan.

This project was funded in part by the Michigan State Bar Foundation. The Foundation’s funding does not constitute an endorsement of any content or opinion expressed in it. In addition, the Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians, the Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians, the Nottawaseppi Huron Band of the Potawatomi, and the Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe of Michigan provided matching funds for the project. Several volunteer attorneys provided valuable feedback throughout the project: Lydia Barbash-Riley, Olson Bzdok & Howard PC; Professor Kirsten Carlson, Wayne State University; Briana Green, Schiff Hardin LLP; Brian Pierson, Godfrey & Kahn S.C.; and Jim Schaafsma, Michigan Poverty Law Program.

Michigan Indian Legal Services provides legal services statewide to income-eligible individuals and Tribes, advocates for the rights of individuals, which advances systems of justice, and works to preserve Indian families through state and tribal courts. In September, 1975, a small group of Michigan Indians and attorneys met south of Traverse City, to organize Michigan Indian Legal Services. Over the years, MILS has helped a number of the tribes in Michigan obtain federal recognition. As the tribes in Michigan have gained federal recognition and achieved economic self-sufficiency, MILS’s focus has turned from federal recognition projects and tribal governance development to direct representation of individuals to defend the rights of native peoples and families. MILS attorneys represent parents at all levels of the Michigan court system in Indian Child Welfare Act and Michigan Indian Family Preservation Act cases. In addition, MILS has provided representation for individuals in 11 of the 12 tribal courts in Michigan. MILS handles a variety of tribal court cases, such as child welfare, juvenile delinquency, garnishment, eviction, and criminal defense.

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