US Department of Housing, Urban Development Deputy Assistant Secretary Visits Cherokee Nation

(L to R) Michelle Tinnin Native American Program Specialist for HUD’s Southern Plains Office, Erna Reeves deputy director of the Housing Authority of the Cherokee Nation, Gary Cooper, executive director of the Housing Authority of the Cherokee Nation, Heidi Frechette deputy assistant secretary for HUD’s Office of Native American Programs, Wayne Sims administrator of the Southern Plains Office of Native American Programs in Oklahoma City.

(L to R) Michelle Tinnin Native American Program Specialist for HUD’s Southern Plains Office, Erna Reeves deputy director of the Housing Authority of the Cherokee Nation, Gary Cooper, executive director of the Housing Authority of the Cherokee Nation, Heidi Frechette deputy assistant secretary for HUD’s Office of Native American Programs, Wayne Sims administrator of the Southern Plains Office of Native American Programs in Oklahoma City.

Published October 9, 2016

TAHLEQUAH—The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Deputy Assistant Secretary for the Office of Native American Programs got a firsthand look at how Cherokee Nation spends its grant money from the federal housing agency during a recent tour.

Heidi Frechette, who oversees a budget of more than $700 million and works closely with 567 American Indian tribes, visited the Cherokee Nation for the first time on Sept. 23.

The tribe uses HUD-allocated grants from the Indian Community Development Block Grant Program not only for housing, but to help low- to moderate-income Native entrepreneurs start businesses through the tribe’s retail incubator project.

“It’s always a great experience when we’re able to show federal leaders how we use funding for innovative programs that impact the livelihood of our Cherokee people,” Cherokee Nation Secretary of State Chuck Hoskin Jr. said. “We offer many programs using HUD dollars for everyone from homeless veterans, artists and homeowners to low-income elders and families, so what better way to communicate our needs and use of funds to top decision-makers.”

The tribe uses $800,000 in ICDB grants, with a $266,000 match from the tribe, to help Native entrepreneurs open businesses and assist Cherokee artists who teach, work and sell art through the Cherokee Arts Center in downtown Tahlequah.

Frechette stopped at the Cort Mall to speak with Native business owners who benefit from the grants and toured a few of the Housing Authority of the Cherokee Nation’s 977-unit, low-rent apartments that are supplemented with HUD funds.

“The work that tribes do every day in their communities to improve housing conditions and to spur community development is creating lifelong opportunities and a better future for many families,” Frechette said. “I was honored to visit and see firsthand some of the projects that Cherokee Nation is focusing on, including supporting housing and entrepreneurs. The tribe has been able to maximize its infusion of resources under ARRA funding, as well as NAHASDA grants and other local resources.”

The HACN provides approximately $4.2 million toward rental assistance and $7.8 million in housing rehabilitation to more than 400 low-income Cherokee families residing in privately owned homes, among other programs.

Wayne Sims, administrator of the Southern Plains Office of Native American Programs Department of Housing and Urban Development in Oklahoma City, also toured.

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