Yakutat Tlingit Tribe Receives $600,000 Housing Development Grant

The Yakutat Tlingit Tribe was awarded a grant amounting to $600,000 by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), Alaska Office of Native American Programs (AKONAP) with a NAHASDA match of $200,000 for a total program budget of $800,000. YTT is among the fourteen (14) Tribes and Villages in Alaska to receive $8 million in federal funds for community development projects through the Indian Community Development Block Grant (ICDBG) Program. The ICDBG Program was established in 1977 to help Indian tribes and Alaska Native villages meet their community development needs.

In a press release Tuesday, June 18th, 2019, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development reported that a total of $63 million is being distributed to 85 Native American communities nationwide to improve housing conditions, stimulate economic and community development, and fund construction projects that will generate local job opportunities.

The Yakutat Tlingit Tribe received a formal grant award letter from HUD Tuesday morning, stating that YTT’s grant application has been selected for funding. As a result, a Grant Agreement has been authorized in the amount of $600,000 for the Tribe to acquire and rehabilitate 2-3 single-family homes.

This was the culmination of the diligent efforts of a number of individuals and organizations. First, we would like to thank Paul Johnson of Highliner Consulting for delivering yet another beautiful finished product. Mr. Johnson is a wealth of knowledge and as always, this project highlights his attention to detail and his dedication to helping Tribes succeed. Ralph Wolfe, YTT Community Catalyst/Housing Development and Nathan Moulton, YTT Executive Director both provided the direction and framework of the project and Mr. Johnson took it from there. His contribution was absolutely critical in securing this funding as YTT is currently managing two other housing-related grant-funded projects.

Secondly, but no less important, we would like to recognize all of the hardworking folks at Tlingit & Haida Regional Housing Authority for their dedication in helping the Yakutat Tlingit Tribe with technical assistance and leveraging funds to allocate the 25% match component using our NAHASDA allocation. Jackie Pata, Joyce Nivens, Desiree Jackson, and Lorraine DeAsis have been so helpful with all of our housing-related projects and without their continued support, we wouldn’t be where we are today. Thank you all.

This project is building on the success we have had acquiring housing grants in the last two years. The Yakutat Tlingit Tribe and Yakutat Community Health Center are experiencing rapid growth, and we are in desperate need of available and healthy housing to support the growing number of employees needed to staff both organizations. We are glad to have young YTT Tribal Member professionals moving back home with their families, hence we are doing everything in our power to address the overall housing shortage for families that are currently residing in Yakutat, as well as the future housing needs that will undoubtedly arise in the coming years with the expanding professional population that cannot be sourced locally, but is critical for the success of the organizations.

Paul Johnson conducted a Strategic Planning Consultation in 2017 where YTT set a 5-year goal of 10 additional housing units. The Tribe’s first acquisition was 1 single family home in 2017, a 4-plex in 2018, 2 single family homes in 2019, and this new ICDBG grant for 2 additional single-family homes. We are 1 housing unit shy of our 5-year goal at the end of year 2. This fabulous success is a statement of the caliber of staff we have at YTT. We are extremely lucky and fortunate to have staff that is educated, love what they do, and have a full understanding of the issues and problems that the Yakutat community faces. Nothing worth doing is easy, but with the dedication of our staff here at YTT and our wonderful partners mentioned above, we are certainly making it look easy.

YTT is currently looking to pursue another HUD Indian Housing Block Grant (IHBG) which has a $5,000,000 project cap and is significantly higher than the other grants we have acquired thus far. Our goal here is to continue this trend of property acquisition, new construction, and rehabilitation.

We are aware that there is currently a shortage of housing in Yakutat, and at the same time, our professional population is growing like never before. But we, as a Tribe, are equipped and prepared to put in the work necessary to make our community a better place. No matter what we have recently accomplished, we are never one to rest on our laurels. This is just the beginning, and these efforts will continue until we are able to accommodate all that we serve.