WASHINGTON, D.C. – Legislation that reauthorizes and enhances the federal program to improve housing in American Indian/Alaska Native communities has cleared Congress and is headed to the White House, where President Bush is expected to sign it into law, U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, announced today.

The Senate approved the Native American Housing Assistance and Self-Determination Reauthorization Act of 2008 Thursday night and the House of Representatives passed it today.


“Given the great need for improvements in housing stocks for Alaska Natives and Indian tribes nationwide, these changes offer the hope of substantially increasing the availability of quality housing to Native people in the near future,” said Murkowski, who is vice chairman of the Senate Indian Affairs Committee.


The bill, sponsored by Indian Affairs Committee Chairman Byron Dorgan, D-ND, and co-sponsored by Murkowski and U.S. Sen. Ted Stevens, R-Alaska, provides new tools and flexibility to more efficiently deliver housing services to American Indian/Alaska Natives.


The legislation also provides Native housing programs new authority to use funding to construct necessary utility and other infrastructure in and around housing projects. The bill contains numerous amendments to current law sought by Native governments and organizations to cut through red tape and delays and allow the housing program to function better nationwide.


The bill, which streamlines reporting requirements for Indian tribes and housing authorities receiving grants under the 1996 program, also allows for some exemptions to income standards where appropriate for families of essential service providers in Native housing areas.