Substandard Indian Housing Increases Despite Federal Efforts:

A Change Is Needed

CED-78-63: Published: Mar 31, 1978. Publicly Released: Mar 31, 1978.

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Federal programs for Indian housing are administered by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA), and the Farmers Home Administration (FmHA). In 1971, GAO reported to the Congress that progress in eliminating substandard Indian housing was slow and that, unless the housing program was accelerated, thousands of Indian families would continue to live under severe hardships.

Since the report was issued, the number of Indian families living in substandard housing has increased from 63,000 in June 1970 to 86,500 in June 1976, while the number of new units started annually has dropped from about 5,000 to 3,500. This is attributable to a steadily increasing number of Indian families on the reservations, an inadequate production level, and inadequate management of existing housing. Federal housing programs have not been effective in providing the number of units necessary to keep pace with increasing needs. HUD, which provides the largest number of Indian housing units, has an inefficient delivery system, and its program requirements, designed for urban areas, are not appropriate for Indian reservations. Indian housing authorities lack the funding and staffing resources to effectively manage and maintain units once constructed. Funding for BIA housing assistance grants is not adequate to meet Indian needs. FmHA programs are limited because they require higher monthly payments than Department programs and the outreach program is inadequate. The present goal of eliminating substandard housing on Indian reservations in the 1970s is no longer feasible.

Matter for Congressional Consideration

  1. Status: Closed

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for additional information.

    Matter: Congress should redefine the national policy for Indian housing and establish a program with realistic goals which should: (1) consolidate Indian housing programs and combine the responsibility for Indian housing into a single agency; and (2) recognize that a wide range of options will be needed to serve various income levels and cope with special needs. Pending establishment of a new policy, agency heads should improve the effectiveness and efficiency of existing programs by assessing goals, improving procedures, developing cost systems, and improving management.


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