Housing for Native American Elders
Yesterday I saw a hopeful story about solar phones for Navajo Elders living in remote communities. The story was in “Indian Country Today Magazine.” The solar phones are the creation of an Albuquerque company called Sacred Wind, who is also working with the Navajo Nation on broadband service. The great thing about these phones is that they work for homes without electricity, a common occurrence in many Navajo communities. They make telephone access possible for Elders and people with medical challenges who are living remotely on the reservation. This brings a wind of hope, and Sacred Wind was voted the most inspiring company in America.
The solar phones made me think too about the situation with reservation housing:
- the wait list for tribal housing (approximately 3 years is the average)
- the overcrowding or homelessness for American Indians
- the remoteness of some tribal members, coupled with the lack of basic utilities (such as electricity, phones, and running water)
- the frequent stories about new homes being built but Elders unable to move in due to basic utility challenges
Over time, these situations are improving, but it’s one household at a time. This makes me grateful for NRC’s home improvement service. Each summer we provide major home improvement or build modest housing for several Navajo Elders and Elders on other reservations when the homes they are living in put life or health at risk.
I remember summer before last when our contractor was working on a home and the roof caved in. We were so thankful the Elder had been moved out of the home before the repairs started, that the roof didn’t cave in during the middle of winter, and that Mary would not be living with this risk any more.
This summer, major repairs are underway for six Elders, including building one new home. These range from bathroom and kitchen repairs, to electrical and plumbing repairs, to ramps and weatherproofing. The home improvements will benefit Elders in the Navajo community of Teec Nos Pos and the White Mountain Apache community of White River, both in Arizona. You can learn more about our home improvement service online.