Billings, Yellowstone County, Montana

Tribes struggle to meet the housing needs of all their members

RCAC and Native Home Capital (NHC) launch the Tribal Housing Excellence Academy (THE Academy)

The Native Housing Assistance and Self-Determination Act (NAHASDA) of 1996 significantly changed HUD funding for tribes into a block grant program that allows them to structure their own approaches to developing housing for their members. Then as now, HUD funds are inadequate, but now HUD is also pushing Tribes to leverage their NAHASDA funds. In addition, tribes have historically faced unique challenges in building on trust land, encountered difficulties in attracting outside, private financing to their developments, and continue to face internal issues around capacity and attracting experienced staff.

RCAC and NHC launched THE Academy, a three-year initiative, to work with tribal organizations in the West to increase the quality, quantity and types of housing on Tribal lands. It provides a training ground for Tribal entities where participants take their respective housing projects from concept to construction by participating in intensive capacity-building sessions.

Eight organizations, including the Native American Development Corporation in Montana, were selected because they demonstrated clear determination to increase their skills, willingness to commit time and resources, and had a potential housing development project. Each participating organization assembled a development team; two development team members from each organization are participating in four, week-long training sessions over the course of 15 months. In between, and after they have completed, training sessions the development teams receive technical assistance from a coach experienced in housing development and organizational management as they move their project forward.