A recent hearing held in Savoonga, Alaska, focused on housing overcrowding and affordability and its impacts on Alaska Native communities. United States Sen. Lisa Murkowski chaired the hearing, which was the first to consider these issues.

Several witnesses testified, including the president of the Native Village of Savoonga, Savoonga’s clinic manager of Norton Sound Health Corporation, the principal of Hogarth Kingeekuk Sr. Memorial School, president/CEO of the Bering Straits Regional Housing Authority, the administrator of the Alaska Office of Native American Programs within Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and Jacob Iya, a senior from Hogarth Kingeekuk Senior Memorial School.

“Due to funding cuts, housing becomes less available and the materials needed for the housing are bare and expensive. With said issues, our culture, language, and way of life is at risk. I see more and more children being deprived of learning their language every year. Traditions and moral values have nearly vanished, but for the years to come we have learned to live with what we have as our ancestors did before us,” Iya said, according to KTVA.com reports.

While housing overcrowding affects about 2 percent of U.S. households, it impacts 16 percent of Alaska Native and American Indian households. According to witnesses, this represents what would be considered homelessness in other parts of the U.S.

Construction rates are not producing enough housing to keep up with the need.

To learn more, go here: http://www.ktva.com/story/38970679/hearing-discusses-overcrowded-rural-housing-in-ak