South Dakota Rural Development State Director Elsie M. Meeks addressed a crowd of nearly 500 attendees at the 37th Annual National American Indian Council Convention & Trade Show in Phoenix, Arizona last week. This year’s theme was “Connect to the Past, Commit to the Future.”
Meeks, an Oglala Sioux Tribal Member, highlighted Rural Development’s programs and provided stats on the opportunities provided to American Indian/Alaska Native families on a national scale since the year 2000. She noted that the Single Family Housing Direct Program has helped over 2,600 Native families become homeowners during that time and that the USDA Guaranteed program has helped an additional 3,700 families achieve their homeownership dreams. In addition the USDA Home Repair program has funded home repairs for over 3,000 Native families.
USDA’s Multi-family Housing Direct program has supported the construction of 67 properties with 1200 rental units on Tribal Land and the Guarantee program has supported the construction of 5 properties with 217 rental units on Tribal Land while Housing Preservation Grants have helped repair or improve over 1,200 Native-occupied housing units.
State Director Meeks also said that USDA has provided $439.8 million since 2000 for essential community facilities in Indian country and almost $550 million to improve water quality.
The statistics, said Meeks, show a strong commitment by USDA Rural Development in enhancing the economic, infrastructure, and community development of Indian Country. We remain committed to expanding on these efforts in the years ahead.
This convention and trade show is NAIHC’s most longstanding annual event and is an opportunity to learn about Indian housing, attend training courses, and network with successful housing professionals as well as vendors from across the country.