By JOSEPH MARTIN
ONE FEATHER STAFF
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – The United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians in Oklahoma (UKB) suspended its housing program Jan. 7. The Tribe cited direct and indirect circumstances with funding, including an incomplete audit and federal government shutdown. During the suspension the tribe won’t be providing housing services, nor will it accept applications for housing programs.
On the Tribe’s Facebook page, Housing Director Nancy McCause said, “We’re not taking any applications for any of our programs at this time. However, we are on standby for emergency issues that might come up. We’re still prepared to deal with dire emergencies for tribal members. We do have a little bit of funding set aside that isn’t restricted as long as it’s used for housing activities.”
The suspension affects mortgage, rental and college housing assistance programs. Programs already in place have been put on hold, the tribe said.
“We have the money available for us to use, but because our audit was not completed by June 2018 when it was supposed to be, we were placed on restricted status,” McCause said. “This means that the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development has to approve everything we draw. With the shutdown, they’re just not there to approve it.”
Sean Nordwall, UKB executive director of tribal operations, said, “I’m very disappointed that this had to happen because I’ve been trying to push the audit as much as I could. We got the audit approved early in 2018, but unfortunately it wasn’t under my supervision. We know there are tribal members disappointed about this at a time where they really need services, but we are diligently working towards getting this remedied now.”
The Tribe has contacted the National Indian Housing Council to seek other avenues to pursue. “We’re putting things in place and just feeling good that we will get through it,” said McCause. “Until then, they can go to our Health and Human Services to see if there’s any kind of assistance that they can give them.”