WASHINGTON – Sen. Tim Johnson (D-South Dakota) introduced on Oct. 30 his Native American Housing Enhancement Act of 2003 (NAHEA), a five-pronged bill to foster housing development in Indian Country. “We must continue to break down barriers to homeownership and housing development in Indian areas, creating the sort of economic environment that will allow for tribal self-sustainability,” said Russell Sossamon, chairman of the National American Indian Housing Council which provided input, along with tribal leaders, towards the creation of the new bill. Among the provisions of Johnson’s bill, it calls for three amendments to the Native American Housing Assistance and Self Determination Act of 1996: * Ensure that NAHASDA participants do not pay more for housing than the fair market rate; * Allow tribal housing entities to retain program money for successive grant years: * Allow for the establishment of reserve accounts. The bill would also amend the Cranston-Gonzalez National Affordable Housing Act so that Indian tribes, tribally designated housing entities, or other agencies primarily serving Indians can qualify for YouthBuild grants. Johnson said he sees no “large legislative threats” that would endanger the passage of NAHEA, and he added that he hoped the measure “will be relatively non-controversial.” NAHEA is the second of a two-part comprehensive legislative package created by Sen. Johnson to bring economic resources to Indian Country. The first part was a tax bill he introduced in July. -

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