Four Alaska Villages receive grants in first round of HUD program

Published: Jul. 3, 2020 at 3:40 PM AKDT
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This week, the Department of Housing and Urban Development announced the first round of grants to be issued as part of the Indian Community Development Block Grant, Imminent Threat program.

Of the $15 million dollars that has been distributed so far, a combined $3.3 million will be spread across four villages in Alaska.

The Petersburg Indian Association and the Native Village of Skagway will receive $900,000 apiece. Steven's Village is set to receive $899,273 and Chenega will be granted $637,149.

The program will ultimately allocate $100 million dollars to tribes, primarily meant to be used on projects that will solve COVID-19 related housing issues like overcrowding or a lack of quarantine capabilities.

"From helping Tribes build more affordable housing to building a place where families can go to quarantine, this funding will help Native Americans persevere during this unprecedented time," HUD Assistant Secretary of Public and Indian Housing, R. Hunter Kurtz said in a prepared statement.

Tracy Welch, the tribal administrator for the Petersburg Indian Association says her organization is currently considering multiple plans for how to use their funds.

"We are not really sure which will come to fruition," Welch said. "We're looking at either construction of a two-bedroom duplex that would be accessible for elderly individuals, and the other thought is re-modeling a foreclosure duplex that is available right now."

In Skagway, tribal administrator Sara Kinjo-Hischer says the money will go a long way for a community that is not currently equipped to handle COVID-19.

"If we end up with any cases in Skagway ... I don't know if you're familiar, but it's a town of 800 people with one small clinic," she said. "We have one ventilator, so it would be pretty important to separate people if there was a case."

In Chegena, tribal representatives first learned about their grant being awarded on Friday morning. No details about their plans for the funding have been provided at this time.

KTUU also attempted to contact representatives from Stevens Village before this article was published.

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