Easing the Housing Crisis on Native American Reservations

For most of us, home is where we build our memories. But for many Native families, poor living conditions often get in the way of everyday life. In fact, 40 percent of Native families live in sub-standard or overcrowded housing, such that the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights notes, “the basic standard of living of Native Americans remains well below that of the rest of the nation, with crumbling structures…  and overcrowding all too common in Indian Country. Many Native American households often lack even basic provisions such as plumbing, electricity, and telephone lines.”

Compounding this is the lack of resources many Native families face. Without the local jobs and economic assets to make improvements, housing issues can continue to negatively impact the lives of families – especially for Native American Elders.

In an effort to ease the housing need, Partnership With Native Americans (PWNA) provides home improvement services to Elders in select reservations communities through its Southwest Reservation Aid (SWRA) program.

 SWRA provides home repairs such as replacing roofing and windows, fixing plumbing, and installing access ramps. By working with reservation-based partners to identify the Elders most in need, SWRA can provide improvements necessary to bring the Elders’ homes up to safe living standards. The recipients selected typically live in very old homes that present significant health or safety risks, such as improperly installed wood stoves, holes in floors and walls, rickety wheelchair ramps or no ramps at all, black mold, dirt floors or faulty electrical wiring.

For Elizabeth S, a lifelong resident of Cove, Arizona, Our SWRA program replaced her old stove with a new one. Another Cove Elder, Flora L., will have her roof replaced soon through the SWRA program. “My husband, David, built our home in the early 1970’s so that I could be close to my aging parents. If David were still alive, he’d be repairing the roof himself! Thank you, A’he’hee,” she said to PWNA, SWRA and the Cove Chapter.

The repairs and improvements being provided are more than improvements to the structure of homes; they are helping provide Native American Elders and their families a solid foundation on which to build their future. Find out how you can help PWNA and SWRA ensure that more Southwest Native American Elders have safe, livable housing here.

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