An Affordable Housing Model for Indigenous Americans

A Native-Inclu­sive Safe Out­door Space (SOS) in Den­ver, Col­orado offers shel­ter to unhoused Indige­nous peo­ple, in advance of the first afford­able hous­ing com­plex designed for Indige­nous res­i­dents which will break this year.

As Rak­sha Vasude­van in High Coun­try News, “Indige­nous peo­ple com­prise 2.6% of ’s , but in 2023, they account­ed for 3.9% of those expe­ri­enc­ing .” Vasude­van adds that “In Den­ver, they are over­rep­re­sent­ed in the unhoused pop­u­la­tion by 400%.” Across the West, over 16,000 Indige­nous peo­ple were home­less in 2023.

To get around fed­er­al pro­hi­bi­tions on using race as a cri­te­ri­on in hous­ing pro­grams, the hous­ing author­i­ty in Port­land, Ore­gon used  HUD Indi­an Hous­ing Block Grant fund­ing to cre­ate afford­able hous­ing that pri­or­i­tizes Indige­nous peo­ple. Oth­er use proxy indi­ca­tors such as “ attain­ment, income, home val­ue, uti­liza­tion of social ser­vices, and free and reduced lunch sta­tus for chil­dren” to ensure Indige­nous peo­ple get access to the ser­vices and hous­ing they need.

Accord­ing to Der­rick Bel­gar­de, Siletz and Chippe­wa-Cree, exec­u­tive direc­tor of Chief Seat­tle Club, “There’s cer­tain pop­u­la­tions it makes sense … to specif­i­cal­ly for them.” Bel­gar­de adds, “What the data shows is that you should be able to do that with Native as well.”

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