• Brittney Bennett

UKB announces suspension of Housing Services


UKB Housing Staff pose with members of the UKB Tribal Council during a staff retreat in 2018. BRITTNEY BENNETT/GCN

BY REPORTING STAFF


TAHLEQUAH - The United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians Housing Department announced via Facebook on Jan. 7 that it would be suspending its housing services "until further notice" due to "direct and indirect circumstances."


These circumstances include an "incomplete" internal tribal financial audit and the U.S. Government shutdown.


“We have the money available for us to use, but because our audit was not completed by June 2018 when it was supposed to be, we were placed on restricted status. This means that the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development has to approve everything we draw (down). With the shutdown, they’re just not there to approve it," said Nancy McCause, UKB Housing director.


The Jan. 7 notice also informed tribal members that the department would not be taking any applications for new services. and that programs affected by the suspension include mortgage, rental and college housing assistance.


“We’re not taking any applications for any of our programs at this time,” said McCause. “However, we are on standby for emergency issues that might come up. We’re still prepared to deal with dire emergencies for tribal members. We do have a little bit of funding set aside that isn’t restricted as long as it’s used for housing activities.”


The notice stated that Housing employees had been made aware of the department’s status while McCause and Executive Director of Tribal Operations Sean Nordwall consult with other agencies about the issue.


“I’m very disappointed that this had to happen because I’ve been trying to push the audit as much as I could," said Nordwall. "We got the audit approved early in 2018, but unfortunately it wasn’t under my supervision. We know there are tribal members disappointed about this at a time where they really need services, but we are diligently working towards getting this remedied now.”


McCause said the tribe has been in contact with the National American Indian Housing Council and recommended that for the time being, tribal members in need can check with the UKB Health and Human Services by calling 918-871-2800.


“We’re putting things in place and just feeling good that we will get through it,” said McCause. “Until then, they can go to our Health and Human Services to see if there’s any kind of assistance that they can give them.”


The tribe stated that they would keep tribal members informed and that it hoped "to work towards a resolution as quickly as possible."


The Giduwa Cherokee News is reaching out to the Housing Department and the Chief's Office for further information about the audit.

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