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Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Massachusetts) has announced new legislation aimed at funneling more money into Indian Country housing and other services through the Department of Agriculture’s Rural Housing Service programs. 

Under the Tribal Rural Housing Access Act, the USDA would be required to set aside 5 percent of its funding under certain Rural Housing Service programs for use by tribes, tribally designated housing entities, tribal members, and tribal-owned entities. The legislation proposes the set aside for a range of loan and grant programs, including programs providing technical assistance, money for repair and rehabilitation of rural housing, and the construction of new, multi-family homes for low-income residents. 

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Speaking on background, an aide with Warren’s office told Native News Online the bill could result in millions of dollars set aside for a given Rural House Services program. Using FY2023 allocations, for example, the portion of Rural Housing Service’s Section 502 program dedicated to backing guaranteed home loans for low-income families would set aside $1.5 billion.  

Warren announced the Tribal Rural Housing Access Act Tuesday morning, calling the bill a way to fulfill federal trust obligations to tribes.

“Families in rural Native communities have been hit especially hard by our nation’s housing crisis, facing huge barriers to finding housing and making much-needed repairs,” Warren told Native News Online. “The federal government has an obligation to ensure federal resources reach Native communities, and my new bill will guarantee rural tribal communities access to the funding they deserve.” 

The Tribal Rural Housing Access Act pulls from Warren’s larger efforts toward supporting tribal communities in S. 5186, the Honoring Promises to Native Nations Act introduced in 2022, her aide said. While that bill was referred to the Committee on Indian Affairs in December of that year, no further action on it has been taken. Warren’s aide also pointed to a Congressional “laser focus” on housing proposals as the impetus for introducing the new bill. 

The Tribal Rural Housing Access Act has been endorsed by multiple Native organizations, per a statement from Warren’s office. 

Those organizations include the Native CDFI Network, the National Congress of American Indians, and the National American Indian Housing Council, as well as broader non-Native organizations, such as the Housing Assistance Council, the National Rural Housing Coalition, and the National Housing Law Project. 

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About The Author
Chez Oxendine
Author: Chez OxendineEmail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Chesley Oxendine (Lumbee-Cheraw) is an Oklahoma-based reporter for Native News Online and its sister publication, Tribal Business News. His journalism has been featured in the Fort Gibson Times, Muskogee Phoenix, Native Oklahoma Magazine, and elsewhere.