Native American Housing:

Information on HUD's Funding of Indian Housing Programs

RCED-99-16: Published: Nov 30, 1998. Publicly Released: Nov 30, 1998.

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Judy A. England Joseph
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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the Department of Housing and Urban Development's (HUD) implementation of the Native American Housing Assistance and Self-Determination Act of 1996 (NAHASDA), focusing on: (1) how HUD allocated funding to Indian housing authorities and tribes before NAHASDA's enactment, and how much was appropriated for Indian programs in fiscal years (FY) 1993 through 1997; (2) identifying the factors HUD used to allocate Indian housing block grant funding to tribes and tribally designated housing entities under NAHASDA, and whether HUD considered current tribal housing needs, past tribal housing management performance, and the magnitude of unspent housing grant funding for incomplete housing projects; (3) the amount, type, and age of unspent funding for incomplete housing projects; and (4) the status of HUD's Indian housing block grant funding for fiscal years 1998 and 1999.

GAO noted that: (1) before NAHASDA became effective, HUD distributed funding to Indian housing authorities and tribes through 14 different programs, each having its own criteria for awarding and allocating grant funding; (2) for nine of these programs, funding was awarded competitively, requiring the Indian housing authorities or tribes to submit project proposals, which HUD then scored and ranked; (3) for the other five programs, HUD allocated funding to Indian housing authorities or tribes noncompetively, using formulas or distributing the funds on a first-come, first-serve basis; (4) over fiscal years 1993 through 1997, HUD provided a total of $2.8 billion to Indian housing authorities and tribes through these 14 programs; (5) after NAHASDA went into effect for FY 1998, eliminating 9 of the 14 separate Indian housing programs and replacing them with a single block grant program, HUD used the act's noncompetitive allocation formula to determine the grant amounts for the 575 Indian housing entities; (6) the formula has two components: (a) the costs of operating and modernizing existing housing units; and (b) the need for providing affordable housing activities; (7) the allocation formula does not include a factor for past management performance; (8) HUD's rationale was that there is no authority under the new act for it to consider the authorities' failure to comply with requirements and regulations that are no longer in effect; (9) relying on other guidance, HUD has placed conditions on the use of NAHASDA grant funds if a housing entity has a history of problems with administering other federal grant programs; (10) in subsequent years, HUD can consider performance under NAHASDA when dispensing new grants; (11) the block grant formula also did not consider the approximately $929 million in total unspent Indian housing program funding awarded in previous years because the funding addresses needs that continue to exist; (12) most of the unspent funds were provided in fiscal years 1993 through 1997 through two programs--Development and Modernization; (13) entities must report their planned use of those funds to HUD as part of their Indian housing plans; (14) for FY 1998, $590 million was appropriated for the Indian housing block grants awarded under the new act; (15) as of July 1, 1998, over 97 percent of the housing entities had submitted the required Indian housing plans to HUD describing their planned use of block grant funds and HUD approved 327 of those plans; and (16) for FY 1999, HUD requested $600 million for the program.

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