Senator fought to secure housing assistance grants as part of more than $32 billion in funding for Indian Country included in the recent coronavirus relief package

U.S. SENATE – In his continued efforts to ensure Montana Tribes can access the resources they need to keep their communities safe throughout the coronavirus pandemic, U.S. Senator Jon Tester announced that he secured $19,941,707 to be split between eight Montana Tribes to bolster affordable housing efforts in Indian Country as part of the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021. 

The funding is allocated by the Indian Housing Block Grants (IHBG) program, which provides grants to Tribes and Tribally designated housing entities to assist in recovering from the effects of COVID-19 by helping to carry out affordable housing activities and providing affordable housing assistance to Tribal members. Tester fought to include $450 million for the IHBG program as part of the recent coronavirus relief package.

“Housing in Indian Country is a serious problem, and it’s unacceptable that during a global public health crisis—where we’re encouraging folks to stay at home as much as possible—that so many Native American families don’t have access to quality, affordable housing,” said Tester. “Native communities are already some of the hardest hit by COVID-19 in Montana, and I’m proud to have secured this funding as part of the recent coronavirus relief package that will help Montana Tribes provide critical resources to families so they can keep a roof over their heads without emptying their pocketbooks.”

Currently, about 90,000 Native American families are homeless or under-housed. A 2013 National American Indian Housing Council (NAIHC) report found that 40 percent of on-reservation housing is substandard, compared to 6 percent of all off-reservation housing in the United States. NAIHC also found that nearly one-third of reservation homes are overcrowded, less than half are connected to public sewer systems, and 16 percent lack indoor plumbing. In 2017, HUD documented a need of at least 68,000 new units in Indian Country to address the high percentage of substandard homes and the overcrowded living conditions in Native communities.

The breakdown of IHBG funding for Montana Tribes is as follows:

  • Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes – $3,450,368
  • Crow Tribe – $1,927,320
  • Blackfeet Tribe – $4,697,346
  • Chippewa Cree Tribe of Rocky Boy – $1,736,485
  • Fort Belknap Indian Community – $1,413,925
  • Fort Peck Assiniboine & Sioux Tribes – $3,379,779
  • Little Shell Tribe of Chippewa Indians – $1,349,563
  • Northern Cheyenne Tribe – $1,986,921

Over the past year, Tester has met with Montana Tribes to discuss the resources Tribal leaders need to get their communities through this crisis. He used their input to fight for and secure more than $32 billion in targeted funding for American Indian, Alaska Native, and Native Hawaiian priorities in the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 while ensuring that distribution of relief to Indian Country is expedited, funds are non-competitive, and the funding is structured so Tribes have longer spending windows. 

In addition to the $450 million investment into the IHBG program, Tester worked to secure:

$20 billion for Tribal governments to combat COVID-19 and stabilize Tribal community safety-net programs 

$6.094 billion for Native health systems

  • Indian Health Service
    • $2.340 billion for COVID-19 vaccines, testing, tracing, mitigation, and workforce expenses
    • $2 billion for lost third-party medical billing reimbursements
    • $600 million for health facilities construction and sanitation programs
    • $500 million for clinical health services and Purchased/Referred Care
    • $420 million for mental and behavioral health
    • $140 million for improving health IT and telehealth access
    • $84 million for Urban Indian health programs
    • $10 million for potable water delivery

$1.271+ billion for Native education programs, including Bureau of Indian Education schools, Tribal education agencies, and Tribal Colleges and Universities

  • $850 million for Bureau of Indian (BIE) education programs, BIE K-12 schools & dormitories, and Tribal Colleges and Universities
  • $190 million for Department of Education grants to Tribal Education Agencies, Native Hawaiian education organizations, and Alaska Native education organizations
  • $142+ million for Tribal Colleges and Universities through the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund
  • $89+ million for Native-serving institutions of higher education
  • $1+ billion for Native families
  • $1+ billion for Tribal child care programs and supports
  • $75 million for Tribal TANF grantees to provide assistance to families in need through the Pandemic Emergency Assistance Fund

$900 million for Bureau of Indian Affairs programs

  • $772.5 million for Tribal government services (i.e., general welfare assistance, assistance to Tribal governments, public safety, child welfare)
  • $100 million for the Housing Improvement Program
  • $20 million for potable water delivery
  • $7.5 million for administrative costs and oversight

$793 million for HUD Tribal housing programs

  • $498 million Tribal set-aside within Treasury’s Homeowners Assistance Program for Tribes and Native housing programs
  • $280 million for the Indian Community Development Block Grant
  • $15 million for technical assistance, administrative costs, and oversight

$600 million for Native communities’ critical economic and infrastructure investments 

  • $500 million for Tribal governments to support capital investments in Native businesses within Treasury’s State Small Business Credit Initiative
  • $100 million for critical infrastructure projects in Native communities

$20 million to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 on Native languages

  • $20 million for a new emergency Native language preservation & maintenance grant program through the Administration for Native Americans to mitigate impacts of COVID-19 on Native languages 

$19 million for Native communities’ efforts to combat domestic violence 

  • $18 million for Tribal awardees through the Family Violence Prevention & Services Act
  • $1 million for “Stronghearts” Native Domestic Violence Hotline

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