Friday, May 20, 2011

36 Days Until the Election- Cherokee Housing

One thing that was apparent in the Principal Chief's debate is that Baker and Smith have very different plans for spending the Cherokee Nation's housing money. Baker claims we can build houses like we used to and it would help the economy. Smith says the old system was broken and resulted in a 50+ year waiting list.

So what is the truth?  For this one, we pause from our mocking of the Cherokee Phoenix to sing their praises for researching this one.

Turns out it is true, there used to be a 50+ year waiting list, because the fine folks at the Housing Authority were putting about 93 families a year in houses and there were 5,204 people on the waiting list. (Scroll down to page 10.)

So… the perfect high school graduation gift was a spot on the housing waiting list.   That way, you’d have a house about the time you got a hip replacement at Hastings. 

Smith also claimed that Cherokee Nation puts 287 families in homes annually now, and way back in the day before he took over it was 23.  The Cherokee Phoenix says the 287 number is true, and so is the 23, if you look at it for just the years he claims, which were 1996-1999   (when Byrd was Chief and his Housing director went to prison), it was 23 houses.  From 1993-1995 (when Wilma Mankiller was Chief) the Housing Authority built an average of 136 houses.    Smith likely wasn’t railing against the Mankiller way of doing things, so by selecting the Byrd/Thompson/federal prison years, it throws the 23 number into sharper contrast.

Baker has presented ideas of using alternative funding to build houses without cutting into Smith’s existing programs.  He has identified $20 million at the Housing Authority that he says MUST be used for this purpose  (scroll down to page 8).

The Cherokee Phoenix says that’s not exactly true, but that there is around $20 million at the Housing Authority that COULD be used for that, but it could also be used for other housing activities.  Baker’s plan seems more housing-friendly than having money sitting in a bank, and it’s yet unclear what Smith’s plan for that money is.