NATIVE AMERICAN HOUSING STUDY - Seminole
An important study about housing needs and conditions will take place in our community. Seminole is one of 40 tribes that were selected to take part in a national survey about the housing needs of American Indian and Alaska Native families. The study is sponsored by the Department of Housing and Urban Development. The study will provide information about housing needs of our people. This information will be used to inform policy makers and tribes about how to improve housing conditions. The study has received tribal approval and is scheduled to begin the week of December 9th. NORC at the University of Chicago, a non-profit research organization, has hired tribal members to conduct the survey. About 252 households on the Seminole Tribal Service Area have been randomly selected to take part. Each selected household will soon receive a letter in the mail about the survey. The interviewers will show identification when calling on the selected households. Participation is voluntary. All information is confidential. If asked, it is hoped that you will take part in this important project to improve housing for native families in Indian Country.
If you have any questions please call HASNOK, Administrative Assistant, Kim Harjoche at 405-257-6604
HASNOK receives affordable housing award
By Dustin Gray
At a monthly board meeting held at their Oklahoma City offices on Wednesday, July 13, 2011, the Oklahoma Housing Finance Agency honored the Seminole Nation Housing Authority by presenting them with an Apex Award for Excellence in Affordable Housing.
The OHFA named 11 Apex Award recipients for 2011 in the categories of elderly housing, special needs housing, rural housing, innovative affordable housing initiative, rental housing, management of affordable housing, home ownership, community development, green building, housing revitalization and friend of affordable housing. Five of the 10 awards were dispensed at the July board meeting, which was held in the OHFA Will Rogers Conference Room.
HASNOK Executive Director Tom McGeisey accepted the 2011 Apex Award in Rural Housing from OHFA Executive Director Dennis Shockley and OHFA Chairman Richard Lillard.
HASNOK board member Johnnie West was also in attendance to receive the award.
Elizabeth Glynn, vice president of Travois, Inc., a leading American Indian housing and economic development financing firm, recommended HASNOK for the award.
"HASNOK could provide a few new homes every year, but their waiting list was too long and the housing situation too desperate," the nomination read. "In 2010, HASNOK partnered with Alliant Capital to help change all that."
As a result of this partnership, HASNOK was able to implement their first Low Income Housing Tax Credit project in late 2010.
This project, referred to as Seminole Homes I, will provide 25 newly constructed single-family homes for tribal members, and targets families with household incomes at or below 50% of the Area Median Family Income. Five of the 25 units are reserved for households with special needs.
The newly constructed brick homes are well constructed and offer three bedrooms, two bathrooms and 1,570 sq. ft. of living space.
"More than just an affordable development, the project is designed to encourage self-sufficiency and help tenants develop their own savings and equity," stated Glynn's nomination.
All of the Seminole Homes I units were designated as lease-purchase properties, with tenants achieving home ownership after an initial 15 year rental compliance period.
Because land for the project was donated by the Seminole Nation, HASNOK was able to save a significant amount on initial project costs. After Low Income Housing Tax Credit development fees, HASNOK will have contributed around $600,000 for the Seminole Homes I project and will receive nearly $5 million in total benefit.
Both Alliant Capital, which provided $3.3 million, and the Federal Home Loan Bank of Topeka, which awarded HASNOK a $450,000 grant, were instrumental in helping cover construction costs.
"By spearheading affordable housing development and encouraging eventual homeownership, the Housing Authority is leading the way for future community revitalization and job creation," stated the nomination. "By providing safe, decent and affordable housing, the Seminole Homes I project will allow individuals and families to focus on developing a career, their children's education and becoming an active and productive participant in their community."
"Owning a home is the second largest source of national wealth in the country, but until recently it has been an unattainable goal for tribal members throughout Indian Country. By designating this project as eventual homeownership, the Housing Authority is offering their tenants much more than just the opportunity of financial security or wealth; they are offering these potential homeowners something that cannot be measured in dollars and cents - pride in their home and neighborhood and a sense of accomplishment," the nomination concluded.
HASNOK opens community center
By Joe Clay
On Thursday, September 22, 2011, the Seminole Nation Housing Authority had its ribbon cutting ceremony for the Rolling Meadows Community Building Yvnsvs E-Hute or "Buffalo Den." Principal Chief Leonard M. Harjo, Tom Palmer band General Council Representative Fannie Harjo and former HASNOK Board Member Johnnie West took part in cutting the ribbon while HASNOK Administrative Assistant Tammy Phillips, and HASNOK Executive Director Tom McGeisey, Jr. held the ribbon.
After the ribbon cutting, McGeisey asked Chief Harjo to walk down to the basketball court to take the first shot on the new basketball court, "The nets were just put up before the ceremony began," said McGeisey.
By then kids from the neighborhood were out of school and came over to start their own basketball game. Children were already playing on the new playground. The "Buffalo Den" is 2100 sq. ft. facility with an outdoor pavilion, barbeque grill, fireplace, basketball court with night lighting, four-station computer lab, tornado shelter and a maintenance area. The project started April 19, 2011 and was completed September 21, 2011. HASNOK has been working on this project with investor Alliant Tax Credit Fund, architect Osage Pinnacle Design Group, LLC, contractor Don Hill with MacHill Construction, Inc, consultant Adam Rose of Travois Asset Management and Wayne Sims of the Southern Plains Oklahoma Native American Program. Together they are building homes in the Rolling Meadows community. They have elderly housing, special needs housing, rural housing, and rental housing for Seminole Nation tribal members. The homes surrounding the new community building will offer three to four bedrooms with kitchen, living areas, dining areas and covered garages.
Earlier this summer the Oklahoma Housing Finance Agency awarded the Seminole Nation Housing Authority the Apex Award for Excellence in Affordable Housing. The award was on display at the ceremony for the community to see. The community center will be a place where the community can have their neighborhood watch meetings and where children and adults can access computer resources. It will also be a place of shelter in case of a storm. For more information about the Rolling Meadows Community Building, contact the Seminole Nation Housing Authority at (405) 257-6604.
Community meeting posits HASNOK as a tribal entity
By Dustin Gray
Chief Leonard M. Harjo and Attorney General Jennifer McBee led a public information meeting on Tuesday, June 21, 2011 at the Reynolds Wellness Center to discuss the Seminole Nation Housing Authority's possible transition from a state agency to a tribal agency.
The meeting was organized as a result of Tribal Resolution 2011-59, which passed by a vote of 17 for and 8 against, with two abstentions, at the June 4, 2011 General Council meeting. The resolution, sponsored by NurcupHarjo Band Representative Lottie Coody, authorized an informational meeting to learn more about the Housing Authority and discuss considerations for transitioning the Housing Authority under tribal governance.
The Seminole Nation Housing Authority, or HASNOK, held a separate community information meeting on Thursday, June 16, 2011 to discuss their programs and policies. This helped many tribal citizens gain a better understanding of the agency.
HASNOK is a state agency established under Oklahoma law, and each year, the tribe designates HASNOK as its TDHE, or tribally designated housing entity, for Native American Housing Assistance and Self-Determination Act funding purposes.
Title 18 in the Seminole Nation Code of Laws pertains to Housing. This Housing Code, however, does not establish or contain the Housing Authority. Instead, it establishes general jurisdiction, general provisions, definitions, tenants, mortgage finance, evictionand group dwelling.
"The tribe has authority over the Housing Authority, only as it relates to NAHASDA," Chief Harjo explained to those in attendance at the information meeting. "The Housing Authority has assets, property and income that are governed, not by NAHASDA, but by state law."
One of the points that Attorney General McBee emphasized was the need to create an infrastructure for governance prior to transition.
"If you just pass a resolution saying to transfer [HASNOK] back, you're going to be out of compliance with a lot of HUD regulations on reporting and infrastructure requirements," she told attendees.
"The tribe is the beneficiary of the NAHASDA money. The tribally designated housing entity is the recipient of that money. So you fall under HUD regulations," she continued.
The Seminole Nation receives approximately $1.6 Million in NAHASDA funds annually.
"HUD is very specific about what your Housing Authority has to look like and feel like," McBee added. "So the ordinance that you would pass, honestly, needs to be blessed by HUD."
Oklahoma legislators recently passed a bill allowing the transition of Housing Authorities from state to tribal governance, provided certain criteria are met.
Because the tribe's lands are state public lands, exempt from taxation, either the tribe must be willing to pay taxes on the lands or establish pilot programs - which would be payments made to local municipalities in lieu of taxation - in order to make the transition.
These payments in lieu of taxation are already being made on HASNOK owned properties.
After a tribal ordinance is passed, a copy of the ordinance, a copy of the state law and certified legal descriptions of each piece of property must be filed with the state secretary, attorney general and the local county clerk.
One consideration that McBee explained to attendees was the possibility of operating a hybrid model, in which a tribal entity is created, and the state agency remains in place to oversee land and low-income tax credit program considerations. Such a scenario would also require the blessing of the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development.
When asked about previous Housing Authority transition attempts made by other tribes, the attorney general was honest.
"There have been some horrible train wrecks in Indian Country over this process that have ended up in state court," cautioned McBee.
In the more extreme cases, NAHASDA funding has been interrupted or forfeited.
"For these reasons, it is important that infrastructure is in place and the proper steps are taken, should the tribe elect to make the transition.
"It's a doable thing, for it to come back under the Nation," said TusekiaHarjo Band Chief Rodney Factor. "As a sovereign nation, and as a people with self-determination, it should be under the Nation."
Other attendees, like Ceyvha Band Council Representative Rosanna Jones, held an opposing viewpoint.
"You don't have to bring it under the tribe. It can be done the way it is. It's a state entity. It's been a state entity from the beginning," she said. "Let it stay there."
"If you're not satisfied with the state, then go talk to the state," she continued. "But right now, leave it where it's at."
Still, others like Tom Palmer Band Council Representative Dwayne Miller were a bit more cautious and contemplative.
"It's ultimately going to come down to a decision by the General Council, and I just say let's keep ourselves informed and listen to what our attorney tells us," he said. "If we have questions, let's ask her or the chief. And let's make some well informed decisions."