Hawaiians Join Advisory Council to Advance Housing on Tribal Lands

0
108

Leaders from the Sovereign Council of Hawaiian Homestead Associations (SCHHA) traveled to Washington, D.C., to attend the launch of the Enterprise Community Partners’ National Advisory Council of Native Intermediaries on Oct. 19.

SCHHA joins the National American Indian Housing Council (NAIHC) and the national Native CDFI Network (NCN) to advise Enterprise on affordable housing strategies on tribal lands across the country.

“It was an extraordinary launch and first meeting of NAIHC, NCN and SCHHA with Enterprise,” said Rolina Faagai, SCHHA policy analyst. “As national intermediaries serving trust land communities from Alaska to South Dakota, from Hawai’i to Nebraska, Colorado to Montana, each has specific accountability and expertise in tribal lands.”

Founded in 1982, Enterprise directs resources to support affordable housing in communities everywhere. NAIHC was founded in 1974 and serves over 200 Indian Housing Authorities and Tribally Designated Housing Entities, while NCN, founded in 2008, serves over 60 Native CDFIs. Meanwhile, SCHHA was founded in 1987 and serves over 40 Hawaiian Homestead Associations.

“Connecting three national native housing intermediaries with expertise in federal trust relationships to Enterprise as a large housing intermediary is truly innovative and can quicken the understanding to leverage resources and expertise to serve our Indigenous peoples,” said Kainoa MacDonald, a SCHHA HBA member leader. “NAIHC, NCN and SCHHA each bring housing-specific connections to Enterprise to value the priorities of our respective member organizations that move housing solutions in our respective trust lands.”

For SCHHA, the inclusion of Hawaiian Homestead Associations – representing 200,000 acres of tribal lands established by the federal government in 1920 – was particularly significant. For the first time in history, more Native Hawaiians reside outside Hawaiʻi than in Hawaiʻi, creating SCHHA member organizations in numerous states. Affordable housing has never been more vital.

The Native Advisory Council launch included a full day of mapping out the priorities and experiences of Native Americans, and articulating what a successful partnership might look like among the intermediaries and their member organizations working directly in affordable housing development and finance.

“Enterprise brought us together,” said Iwalani McBrayer, SCHHA housing nonprofit chair. “The experiences shared by NCN and NAIHC [representatives] were exactly our experiences on our trust lands. Mahalo to Enterprise for taking this first step to see and empower our national native intermediaries, we all feel very blessed.”

At the close of the day, SCHHA recognized Tony Walters, the outgoing Executive Director of NAIHC, as he departed Washington, D.C. and NAIHC to return to his homelands in Oklahoma.

Walters has been a unifying figure nationally in the field of native housing, especially on the near 26-year-old NAHASDA law, grounded in self-determination. SCHHA presented Walters with an ʻumeke carved from native hau wood, also crafted into cordage for canoe voyaging symbolizing unity and the impact of Walters’ leadership of NAIHC and in Washington, D.C.