Senators John Hoeven and Kent Conrad, Congressman Rick Berg and Governor Jack Dalrymple today announced that the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) have agreed to the delegation's and governor's request to make 3-bedroom mobile homes available to Native American tribes in the Great Plains region. The delegation moved to secure the housing in a letter they sent in April to HUD Secretary Shaun Donavan and Interior Secretary Ken Salazar. Governor Dalrymple pressed Salazar for the FEMA mobile homes during a meeting in New Town on April 3. Dalrymple also sent a written request to President Obama the following day.
The delegation was notified Monday that under an agreement between HUD and the Interior Department, the two agencies will evenly split all of the homes that become available following their use by individuals displaced by flooding last year, largely in Minot. The BIA has indicated it will allocate its units to the tribes in the Great Plains region, including North Dakota, South Dakota and Wyoming.
FEMA has indicated that there are currently 864 housing units in North Dakota. HUD notified the delegation that roughly half of the tribes requesting mobile homes are located in the Northern climate zones and will be eligible to receive houses currently dispatched to Minot. The agency anticipates a number of tribes from other parts of the country will receive units, but the cost of transporting them over significant distances would be considerably higher than placing them locally.
Moreover, because the houses are designed for cold climates, they will be allocated to tribes in the northern climate zone of the country. While housing will be made available to tribes outside of North Dakota, the agencies say the allocation method they've put in place will ensure that North Dakota tribes get mobile home units that have been located in the state.
"Like other residents of North Dakota, the tribes are feeling the impacts of rapid economic development, especially on the Fort Berthold and Turtle Mountain reservations in oil country," the delegation and governor said in a joint statement. "These mobile homes are zoned for cold weather and they're already in the area, meaning they can be moved economically and efficiently. We expect our tribes to get a good share of the housing available, and will continue to push for that."