Over the last 10 years the Cocopah Indian Tribe has been renovating homes on the reservation, and two new federal grants will allow the tribe to continue those projects.
Rep. Raúl M. Grijalva announced Tuesday that the tribe had been awarded a $27,500 grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and a $605,000 grant from the Department of Housing and Urban Development to rehabilitate 10 homes owned by low-income tribal residents.
“Better housing is one of the most basic and important improvements we can make in peoples’ lives, and the jobs this creates won’t be the only benefit the community sees from this project,” Grijalva said.
The smaller grant will help the tribe finish a rehabilitation project the Cocopah Indian Housing and Development started 10 years ago, said Michael Reed, CIHAD chief executive officer.
The focus of this project has been on rental properties that are 20 years or older. CIHAD, an independent organization managed by a board of commissioners, operates and maintains rental homes on all three sections of the reservation.
The bigger grant, a HUD Indian Community Development Block Grant, will allow CIHAD to start a new 10-year project. However, this one will focus on renovating homes owned by tribal residents that have not been renovated in the last 10 to 15 years. The emphasis will be on improving energy efficiency with the installation of energy-saving windows, air conditioning, water heaters and appliances.
The work will be done by CIHAD’s own staff, of whom more than half are Native Americans and tribal members.
In recent years, CIHAD has been renovating homes with ICDBG grants. Fifty of the “oldest and most in need” homes on the reservation received major rehabilitation, including new roof shingles, new heat/air condition systems with new duct work throughout, new floors (tile and carpet) and baseboards, new exterior and interior doors, security screen doors, upgrades to 200 amp electrical system, new dual pane windows and exterior/interior paint.
Kitchen and bathroom upgrades included new appliances, cabinets, countertops, new vanities, showers, towel bars, medicine cabinets, exhaust fans, toilets and plumbing.
Reed noted that CIHAD will continue to apply for a variety of federal and state grants as they become available to continue rehabilitation projects.
According to CIHAD’s website (ontherez.org), the tribe formed the housing agency to encourage members already living on the reservation to remain and members now living off-reservation to return.
The agency also hopes to “build up financial stability and to help strengthen pride in the Cocopah culture” by helping tribal members transition from renting homes to owning homes.
CIHAD also provides housing development services, such as the construction of affordable housing units for sale or lease to tribal members.
“The federal government is right to lend a helping hand whenever it can to make Americans’ lives safer, more comfortable and more prosperous. That’s what these grants are doing ..., and I applaud the tribe for putting them to good use,” Grijalva said.
For more information, contact Reed at firstname.lastname@example.org or (928) 627-8863.
Mara Knaub can be reached at email@example.com or (928) 539-6856. Find her on Facebook at Facebook.com/YSMaraKnaub or on Twitter at @YSMaraKnaub.