Jun 8, 2020
Self-determination is a deeply embedded value within the National American Indian Housing Council. It is the driving force for its members, leaders from 570 tribes who advocate for the housing needs of American Indians, Alaska Natives and Native Hawaiians in 32 states. The shortage of affordable housing is a national crisis and is even more nuanced in native communities. Tribes own and manage their own housing stock and must navigate many levels of municipal, state and federal governance. And they often operate in rural areas, where a lack of running water and heating speak to profound infrastructure problems. It is all the more noteworthy, then that NAIHC, led by executive director Tony Walters, has moved Congress to commit considerable funding to native housing in CARES Act legislation. It reflects a congressional recognition of the disproportionate impact of COVID19 in native communities, attributed in part to overcrowding in tribal housing, which makes social distancing impossible. Tony brings his lived experience, from growing up in Oklahoma to working in the executive and legislative branches, to amplifying the voices of powerful native practitioners on Capitol Hill. This is how change is made.