On July 24, 2013, a bill (S 1352) to reauthorize the Native American Housing Assistance and Self-Determination Act (NAHASDA) was introduced in the Senate. On July 31 the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs (SCIA) held a hearing on S 1352. The current iteration of the NAHASDA legislation expires on September 30, 2013.
S 1352 is sponsored by SCIA Chairwoman Cantwell (D-WA) and co-sponsored by SCIA Vice Chair Barrasso (R-WY), as well as Senators Johnson (D-SD), Udall (D-NM), Franken (D-MN), Begich (D-AK), Heitkamp (D-ND), Schatz (D-HI), and Hirono (D-HI). During the hearing, in his opening remarks, Vice Chairman Barrasso praised the bill for being bipartisan and for “streamlining bureaucracy in Indian housing.” S 1352 would amend and reauthorize NAHASDA for another five years. A number of the provisions which would amend NAHASDA were contained in a draft bill proposed by the National American Indian Housing Council (NAIHC). We provide a summary of the Senate bill below, noting those items that were contained in the NAIHC draft bill.
- Program income: Any income generated from program income (as opposed to being generated by Indian Housing Block Grant (IHBG) funds) will be treated as nonprogram income and will have no restrictions. Currently, the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) treats income that is generated by program income as program income, with the attendant restrictions. [This concept, albeit in slightly different form, was in the NAIHC bill.]
- Tribally-determined prevailing wage rates: If a tribe has adopted prevailing wage rates applicable to a NAHASDA-funded project, those rates will apply to the entire project, including other federal funding sources. [This concept, albeit in slightly different form, was in the NAIHC bill.]
- Environmental review: If a tribe has carried out an environmental review on a NAHASDA-funded project consistent with the applicable HUD requirements, that review will satisfy the environmental review requirements from other federal funding sources. [This concept was in the NAIHC bill.]
- Binding commitments: Binding commitments would no longer be required for funds utilized on privately owned homeownership units if aggregate cost is less than $10,000 over a five-year period. [This concept was in the NAIHC bill, but with a $40,000 cut-off, though with a fallback position of $7500.]
- Conversion of rental unit to homebuyer unit: If a family initially occupied a rental unit as a low-income family, but later gains enough income to exceed the low-income threshold, that family can still convert to a homebuyer for that same unit without having to re-qualify as low-income. [This concept was in the NAIHC bill.]
- Lease Termination notice period: Clarifies application of local/tribal laws for timing of lease termination notices even if there are other funding sources with different requirements. [This concept was in the NAIHC bill.]
- Total Development Costs: Authorizes recipients to exceed total development cost (TDC) caps by 20 percent (under current HUD regulations, it is 10 percent). This concept resulted from concerns that recipients trying to use energy efficient building designs and materials were prevented from doing so by TDC caps. [This concept was not in the NAIHC bill.]
- Self-Monitoring: The self-monitoring requirement would be changed from annually to every other year, except for subrecipients, who must be monitored by the recipient every year. [This concept, albeit in slightly different form, was in the NAIHC bill, which did not include language regarding subrecipients.]
- Reports to Congress and public availability: HUD reports regarding the NAHASDA program would go to the House Committees on Indian Affairs and Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs of the Senate and the Committee on Financial Services of the House of Representatives rather than “Congress” generally. [This concept was not in the NAIHC bill, which actually would require the HUD reports go to tribes.]
- Indian Veterans’ Housing Assistance Demonstration Project: HUD would be authorized to take up to five percent of the rental assistance amounts appropriated under the 1937 Act to establish an Indian Veteran-specific housing assistance voucher program for the benefit of Indian veterans who are homeless or at-risk of homelessness and who are residing on or near Indian lands. The program would be operated by IHBG recipients. The language actually involves an amendment to the 1937 Housing Act. [This concept was not in the NAIHC bill, although the NAIHC bill did call for a restoration of tribal eligibility to participate in the Section 8 voucher program, of which the Veterans’ housing assistance vouchers is a subpart.]
- Low Income Housing Tax Credits Preference: Section 42(m)(1) of the Internal Revenue Code would be amended to require states to provide preference to applicants for Low Income Housing Tax Credits who are tribes, TDHEs, or entities wholly-owned by tribes/TDHEs, or subrecipients of tribes/TDHEs. There would also be a preference for projects being developed in Indian areas as defined by NAHASDA. [This concept was not in the NAIHC bill.]
- Indian Community Development Block Grant Eligibility for TDHEs: Tribally Designated Housing Entities (TDHEs) would be defined as Community-Based Development Organizations eligible to apply directly for Indian Community Development Block Grant (ICDBG) funding. [This concept was not in the NAIHC bill.]
- Cherokee Nation funding: The restriction on the Cherokee Nation receiving IHBG funds, which was tied to resolution of the “Cherokee Freedmen” issue, would be removed. [This concept was in the NAIHC bill.]
- Native Hawaiian NAHASDA: The title providing for a Native Hawaiian housing program would be restored. [This concept was in the NAIHC bill.]
- Matching or Cost Participation: IHBG funds would qualify to be used as matching or cost participation funds for projects where other federal or non-federal funding is conditioned on having matching or cost participation funds included. [This concept was not in the NAIHC bill.]
No companion bill has yet been introduced in the House, but one is expected to be introduced in the near future.
Please let us know if we may provide additional information regarding the reauthorization of the Native American Housing Assistance and Self-Determination Act.