Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro and U.S. Senator Heidi Heitkamp visited Belcourt to view housing challenges with black mold and overcrowding on the Turtle Mountain reservation, and toured Williston to examine the city’s rapidly expanding housing and infrastructure developments.
During the visit, Castro and Heitkamp announced two major HUD initiatives to help improve some of the state’s unique and diverse housing challenges. By the end of the year, HUD will make $6 million in competitive grants available for the Indian Community Development Block Grant program, a community building initiative that will assist with mold remediation on tribal lands.
HUD has also approved emergency waivers for Fair Market Rents – affordable housing rates for low-income households – in nine western North Dakota counties, providing public housing authorities with more flexibility to meet the needs of local residents.
These initiatives will help address some of the dire health conditions experienced in some tribal homes as a result of black mold growth, as well as concerns with a lack of affordable options available for low-income families who struggle to find adequate or available housing in western North Dakota that is within federal market rate restrictions.
“Housing provides the foundation for families to build a better life,” said Secretary Castro. “We are focused on addressing the affordable housing crisis and today's action will give public housing authorities in this region the flexibility they need to help low-income families afford a place to rent. We are also partnering with tribal communities to ensure no child or person gets sick in their own home. That is why today we are proud to announce a new set of grants to help tribal communities eliminate and prevent mold in their homes. HUD plays an important role in expanding opportunity for all and we will continue to partner with local leaders, including Senator Heitkamp, to ensure that this community continues to thrive.”