The White Mountain Apache Housing Authority (WMAHA) helps the members of the White Mountain Apache Tribe to overcome their individual housing needs. Of these, almost 500 are U.S. military veterans. Working in the Fort Apache Indian Reservation located in eastern central Arizona, WMAHA serves the 16,000 enrolled members of the White Mountain Apache Tribe and strives to ensure that every tribal member has safe housing they can afford. The Housing Assistance Council (HAC) is proud to be a partner of WMAHA and their amazing work. In 2018, we awarded a $30,000 grant through The Home Depot Foundation‘s Veteran Housing Grants Program to WMAHA to help support their veterans. In celebration of Veterans Day and Native American Heritage Month, we’d like to highlight just a few of the many ways the White Mountain Apache Housing Authority serves the veterans of the White Mountain Apache Tribe.
|Before and after of a rehab of a veteran’s home completed by WMAHA in 2018
As many veterans know, service doesn’t end when you’re discharged. It’s a value that is carried for a lifetime. For WMAHA, service is key to the mission. The Veteran Home Rehabilitation Program serves those who have served our country. Many of the low-income Apache veterans the Housing Authority assists are in desperate need of multiple, expensive repairs to make sure their homes are safe, accessible, and livable. But without the ability to make these repairs themselves, many veterans need help.
Over the last eight years, the White Mountain Apache Housing Authority has rehabilitated (or in one case built!) 19 homes for their veterans, each of which required multiple major repairs for health, safety, and accessibility. All of this was performed at no cost to the veteran or their family. Last year WMAHA was able to set a record with 5 rehabilitations.
Making sure their veterans have safe and healthy homes is a point of pride for WMAHA and for the entire White Mountain Apache community. After all, WMAHA doesn’t work alone: each rehabilitation is made possible by scores of volunteers. As the team from WMAHA explains, “the number of volunteers who come and help with demolition and construction cleanup during the projects” is a testament to the rehabilitation program’s “impact on the community.” From the Housing Authority to everyday members, including community partners, the White Mountain Apache Tribe takes care of its veterans. By taking care of those who took care of us, WMAHA is serving both its community and the broader community of veterans nationwide.
The COVID pandemic has hit many Native communities particularly hard, and tragically, the White Mountain Apache are no exception. During the pandemic, unemployment, which usually runs 80% according to WMAHA, has far surpassed that amount, and food insecurity is “at a critical level.” Many of the low-income veterans WMAHA assists don’t have a way to pick up food from the local food bank, so the Housing Authority is starting to deliver the food boxes itself. Not content to just help house their veterans, WMAHA is committed to improving their quality of life.
Caring for veterans extends outside the home, too. For WMAHA, ensuring their veterans have access to the Veterans Affairs benefits they deserve is a critical mission. With 1.67 million acres, the Fort Apache Indian Reservation is large and rural. This creates challenges for many of the Tribe’s low-income veterans. Many of the nearest VA hospitals are hundreds of miles away, which makes even getting to routine appointments incredibly difficult. This distance makes it so challenging to receive disability ratings, see specialists, and make necessary appointments that, according to Barb Connerley, a consultant who works with WMAHA, “many of the veterans…do not know what VA benefits are available to them.”
|This veteran’s home was in such disrepair the team from WMAHA decided to tear it down and start from scratch.|
The White Mountain Apache Housing Authority has created a solution to help connect their veterans to the VA medical care they earned through their service. Since 2017, the White Mountain Apache Tribe Department of Transportation has operated Fort Apache Connection Transit (FACT), a 2-route bus system serving 12 stops across the Reservation. While this system doesn’t provide access to the nearest VA hospitals, the Housing Authority recently began repurposing one of their buses to transport veterans to their VA appointments. Multiple times a month, WMAHA will be providing veterans with a bus ride to their appointments and back home. They even take the time to help the veterans complete their paperwork to file for VA benefits.
For the trip, WMAHA provides their veterans with water, snacks, masks, and COVID safety information. They hope that this program can also serve as a teaching event, helping their veterans learn more about COVID safety as well as how to access their VA benefits. The program’s strength is its ingenuity—bringing together transit, healthcare, and informational services—in solving a critical problem for the Tribe’s veterans. Thanks to the White Mountain Apache Housing Authority, veterans living on reservation now have access to the critical VA healthcare they’ve earned through their service.
Many veterans return from their service to find it difficult to access the resources of their communities, including housing. Tragically, Native communities are overrepresented among persistent poverty counties, making these resources even harder to access. The Housing Assistance Council is committed to helping build community resources for housing where they’re needed most. Partners like WMAHA help us give back to our veterans and uplift Native communities. As Barb Connerley puts it, the Tribe’s veterans “have a proud tradition of military service and sacrifice.” The work of the White Mountain Apache Housing Authority pays respect to that service and sacrifice through service, care, and ingenuity of its own.
We live in a multi-generational world which increasingly impacts every facet of society from healthcare to employment and housing. With the continued transition of Baby Boomers into older age, the United States is now squarely in one of the largest demographic shifts in our nation’s history. In rural America, the impacts of an older and aging population are even more pronounced. But, as is the case with other social elements, rural America is not a monolith and there are important dynamics in all rural age strata.
Rural Veterans and Local Nonprofits Receive Critical Housing Support
Funded by The Home Depot Foundation
Washington, D.C., July 24, 2020 – Veterans and their families in twelve rural communities will have better lives, thanks to The Home Depot Foundation and the Housing Assistance Council. The Foundation is awarding grants totaling over $305,000 to twelve local nonprofit housing agencies around the country to preserve housing for veterans in rural America.
The funds are part of The Home Depot Foundation’s Veteran Housing Grants Program, which wascreated to support the development and repair of housing for veterans. Many of our veterans and their families face major housing challenges, often worsened by issues like unemployment, age and service-related disabilities. The Home Depot Foundation is dedicated to giving back to those who have already given so much for our country.
As part of its Affordable Housing for Rural Veterans (AHRV) Initiative, the Housing Assistance Council (HAC) works with The Foundation to administer grants that bolster and support the work of rural nonprofit housing agencies to deliver critical housing support to veterans. “HAC is honored to continue its partnership with The Home Depot Foundation,” said David Lipsetz, HAC’s CEO. “Together we’ve helped strengthen the capacity of local rural organizations to build and preserve veteran housing units across rural America.” As rural America is home to a disproportionately high number of service women and men; HAC remains deeply committed to supporting our nation’s service women and men by uplifting local nonprofits and their work to house and ensure the safe habitability of their homes and rural communities.
The grantee organizations – described below – provide a range of programs. With the grants, veterans who own homes in Arizona, Louisiana, Maryland, Minnesota, Mississippi, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, South Carolina, Texas and West Virginia will obtain critical repair assistance. Altogether, over 70 veterans and their families will benefit from these grants.
About The Home Depot Foundation
The Home Depot Foundation works to improve the homes and lives of U.S. veterans, train skilled tradespeople to fill the labor gap and support communities impacted by natural disasters. Since 2011, the Foundation has invested more than $335 million in veteran-related causes and improved more than 47,000 veteran homes and facilities in 4,500 cities. In 2018, the Foundation pledged an additional $250 million dollars to veteran causes, taking the total commitment to half a billion by 2025. To learn more about The Home Depot Foundation and see Team Depot in action, visit thd.co/community and follow us on Snapchat, Twitter and Instagram @teamdepot and on Facebook at facebook.com/teamdepot.
About the Grantees
- BDT Housing Services Enterprise, Walls, MS will utilize $30,000 to leverage the rehabilitation of five (5) homeowner units located in the lower Mississippi Delta Region. For additional information on BDT Housing Services Enterprise, visit their GuideStar profile at https://www.guidestar.org/profile/26-3736448.
- Habitat for Humanity of Frederick County, Frederick, MD will utilize $17,409 to complete modifications on two (2) units for elderly veterans in Frederick County, MD. For additional information on Habitat for Humanity of Frederick County, visit their website at www.frederickhabitat.org.
- Habitat for Humanity of Orange County, in Chapel Hill, NC will utilize $30,000 to leverage the rehabilitation of three (3) homeowner units. For additional information on Habitat for Humanity of Orange County, visit their website at https://www.orangehabitat.org/.
- Habitat for Humanity of Smith County, in Tyler TX will leverage $30,000 on the rehabilitation and modification of six (6) homeowner units. For additional information on Habitat for Humanity of Smith County, visit their website at https://smithcountyhabitat.org.
- NeighborWorks UMPQUA, in Roseburg, OR will leverage $30,000 on the rehabilitation and modification of ten (10) homeowner units throughout rural Oregon. For additional information on NeighborWorks UMPQUA, visit their website at https://www.nwumpqua.org/.
- Rebuild Upstate, in Greenville, SC will utilize $30,000 to leverage the rehabilitation and accessibility modifications on four (4) homeowner units in rural South Carolina. For additional information on Rebuild Upstate, visit their website at https://rebuildupstate.org/.
- Rebuilding Together Dutchess County, in Poughkeepsie, NY will utilize $15,000 to leverage the rehabilitation of one (1) elderly homeowner units across rural New York. For additional information on Rebuilding Together Dutchess County, visit their website at https://www.rebuildingtogetherdutchess.org/.
- Rebuilding Together Twin Cities, in Minneapolis, MN will utilize $7,000 to leverage the rehabilitation of two (2) homeowner units in rural Minnesota. For additional information on Rebuilding Together Twin Cities, visit their website at https://rebuildingtogether-twincities.org/.
- Southern Appalachian Labor School, in Kincaid, WV will utilize $25,908 to support the rehabilitation of twenty (20) homeowner units in Appalachia. For additional information on Southern Appalachian Labor School, visit their website at https://sals.info/.
- Southwestern Regional Housing and CDC, in Deming, NM, will utilize $30,000 to support the rehabilitation of ten (10) homeowner units across the Southwest Border Colonias. For additional information on Southwestern Regional Housing and CDC, visit their website at https://swnm.org/.
- St. Mary Community Action Agency, in Franklin, LA, will utilize $30,000 to support the rehabilitation of six (6) homeowner units in the lower Mississippi Delta. For additional information on St. Mary Community Action Agency, visit their website at https://www.stmarycaa.org/index.htm.
- White Mountain Apache Housing Authority, in Whiteriver, AZ, will utilize $30,000 to support the rehabilitation of three (3) homeowner units on the Fort Apache Reservation. For additional information on White Mountain Apache Housing Authority, visit their website at https://www.wmahousingauthority.org/default.asp?sec_id=180007661.
All members of our communities, particularly older residents, should have access to safe and affordable housing, quality healthcare, and a nurturing support system, regardless of where they live. With the transition of baby boomers into older age, the United States is now squarely in one of the largest demographics shifts in our nation’s history that will impact every facet of our society – especially housing. Quality and affordable housing for seniors lies at the intersection of healthcare, social well-being, and intergenerational living. Addressing this comprehensive issue requires collaboration in each of these areas.
Housing for rural seniors presents unique challenges – and opportunities. In rural America, the impacts of an aging population are already being felt. Nearly one-fifth of the nation’s population calls rural and small towns home, yet our rural communities house almost a quarter of the country’s elderly, and this trend will only grow. The recent world-wide health pandemic has also heightened the concern and care for our older and potentially more vulnerable residents who disproportionally reside in rural America and makes this conversation more immediate.
HAC thanks AARP Foundation for their generous support of this edition of Rural Voices.
HAC’s Affordable Housing for Rural Veterans initiative supports local nonprofit housing development organizations that meet or help meet the affordable housing needs of veterans in rural places. Grants typically range up to $30,000 per organization and must support bricks-and-mortar projects that assist low-income, elderly and/or disabled veterans with home repair and rehab needs, support homeless veterans, help veterans become homeowners, and/or secure affordable rental housing.
This initiative is funded through the generous support of The Home Depot Foundation.
Applications are due by 5:00PM (EST) on or before November 15, 2019.
For more information, contact HAC staff, firstname.lastname@example.org. No phone calls please.
The Housing Assistance Council proudly supports the women and men who have served our country. Unfortunately, more than 3 million of our nation’s veterans live in sub-standard housing. According to HUD’s 2018 National Point In Time Homeless Count nearly 40,000 veterans are homeless. As a nation, we can do better to ensure those who have given so much for our country have decent, safe, and healthy places to call home. Together with critical backing from The Home Depot Foundation, HAC’s Affordable Housing for Rural Veterans (AHRV) initiative supports local nonprofit housing development organizations that provide and or maintain affordable housing needs of veterans in rural places. Since 2013, HAC and The Home Depot Foundation have partnered to invest approximately $3 million in grant funding to 61 nonprofits to support the rehabilitation, modification and or development of 615 units of veteran housing.
Together, we can give back and help meet the housing needs of rural veterans!
HAC is currently accepting applications for its AHRV Initiative through 5PM ET on Friday, November 15, 2019.
Learn more about the recipients of the 2019 Affordable Housing for Rural Veterans awards.
How many veterans live in your community? Visit Veterans Data Central to find data and information about veterans across the country.
The Supreme Court has ruled that including a citizenship question on the decennial census is permitted by the Constitution, but that the Commerce Department’s stated reason for adding the question is not supported by the facts. The case will now return to a lower court. It is not clear whether a final determination can be made in time to include the question on the 2020 Census, even if different justification is provided.
Those who oppose adding the question argued in court that it would make non-citizens, even those with legal status in the U.S., less likely to respond to the 2020 Census because of concerns about immigration enforcement. Rural residents, especially those who live in remote areas, and minorities are already undercounted.
The nine Justices split differently in parts of the June 27, 2019 decision in Department of Commerce v. New York. Five justices – Chief Justice Roberts and Justices Alito, Gorsuch, Kavanaugh and Thomas – comprised the majority holding that the Constitution allows inclusion of a citizenship question. A majority consisting of Chief Justice Roberts and Justices Breyer, Ginsburg, Kagan and Sotomayor held that the Commerce Department must provide a better explanation of its reasons for including the question. Enforcement of the Voting Rights Act was the Department’s public rationale for asking about citizenship, but evidence cited by the court indicated that was not its real motivation.
The decennial census did include a question about citizenship until 1950. From 1960 to 2000, the question was included on the “long form” census questionnaire that went to a sample of households and asked more detailed questions than the “short form” distributed to everyone. In 2010 the American Community Survey (ACS) replaced the long form and began asking about citizenship. The ACS surveys a sample of the population every year, so its data is constantly updated, unlike the census count every ten years.
Based on the most recent ACS, the Census Bureau estimates that 2.8 percent of the population in rural places and small towns are non-citizens. To view the data for your community and its reliability, visit HAC’s Rural Data Portal.
50 Years of the Fair Housing Act
Safe and affordable homes, free of discrimination, should be equally accessible to all. This edition of Rural Voices explores the state of fair housing half a century after the adoption of the Fair Housing Act and includes contributions from a federal agency, national nonprofits, and practitioners in the field.
VIEW FROM WASHINGTON
HUD’s Fair Housing Office: Combating Discrimination
Anna María Farías
In a nation founded on the principles of justice and equality, it is unacceptable for anyone to be denied the housing of their choice.
Working Towards Fair Housing in 2018’s Rural America
by Leslie R. Strauss
Rural fair housing advocates rely on outreach, education, cultural sensitivity, and partnerships to address issues that may not have been evident 50 years ago.
In early 2018 HUD suspended implementation of a regulation put into place in 2015.
Vermont’s Fair Housing Project encourages residents and local governments to improve zoning and permitting in order to further fair housing and the development of affordable housing.
Disasters Don’t Discriminate, Recovery Shouldn’t Either
by Maddie Sloan
Disaster recovery must be designed to be fair for all, even if pre-disaster housing situations were not.
Nuisance and Crime-Free Ordinances: The Next Fair Housing Frontier
by Renee Williams and Marie Flannery
Fair housing laws may conflict with local laws and policies that penalize tenants for calling law enforcement or having a history of arrest or conviction.
The recent increase in hate crimes includes housing-related hate activity, which can have criminal or civil remedies.
Fighting Hate in North Dakota
by Michelle Rydz
A statewide coalition supports victims of hate crimes, including crimes that are related to housing.
Rural Voices would like to hear what you have to say about one, or all, of these issues. Please comment on these stories by sending a tweet to #RuralVoicesMag, discuss on the Rural Affordable Housing Group on LinkedIn, or on our Facebook page.
HUD’s 2017 point-in-time numbers show the homeless count increased by 0.7% nationally since 2016, which is the first increase since 2010. The overall number has actually decreased when excluding several large cities that have experienced extreme spikes in homeless populations. Homeless counts in rural communities continue to be hard to capture. The following research note highlights the impact of these highly populated areas on the overall homeless count and points out the difficulty in counting the rural homeless population.