Alaska Native organizations receive federal grant for safe and healthy housing

Three Alaska Native tribal organizations have won nearly $3 million in federal housing grants to improve living conditions in more than 100 homes.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development announced the Tribal Healthy Homes Production grants Monday in Juneau. The recipients hope to use the money for home repairs, education and to deal with mold and mildew issues.

The Organized Village of Kake and the Tlingit-Haida Regional Housing Authority each received $1 million. The Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium won almost $870,000.

Housing Authority Executive Director Joyce Niven said the organizations will work together and with partners to improve living conditions in their regions.

“We all have different skill sets that we’ll need to use to execute the grant … because it’s ‘Healthy Homes,’ it’s not just going in and repairing homes,” Niven said. “It’s educating people about managing their homes in a healthy manner.”

One issue she said they frequently deal with in Southeast is mold and mildew. With the area’s wet climate, respiratory issues can result from poor ventilation in people’s homes.

Niven said the Healthy Homes grant funding will help the organizations address those problems more thoroughly.

“When we’re in the homes there’s often so much to be done that we have to set priorities and figure out what’s the most critical thing to get fixed. These funds will help us not have to set so many priorities and maybe get the entire home fixed,’” Niven said.

Niven said she and her staff will start work on an implementation plan due back to the federal government in 90 days.

The Healthy Homes grants are the first of their kind. HUD awarded $12 million in total to 13 tribal organizations across the country.

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