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USDA Committed to Supporting Improvement of Housing Quality in Indian Country

The  newly constructed Oglala Sioux Lakota Housing Authority administration building, built with USDA support.

The newly constructed Oglala Sioux Lakota Housing Authority administration building, built with USDA support.

USDA Rural Development and Housing and Urban Development staff celebrated the building dedication of the first Housing Authority in the nation recently.  Started over 50 years ago, the Oglala Sioux Lakota Housing Authority located on the Pine Ridge Indian reservation, in South Dakota, hosted officials in honor of the opening of their newly constructed administration building.  Funded through a USDA Rural Development’s Recovery Act Community Facility Direct loan of $3.6 Million, the building stands for the coordinated effort of many agencies.

South Dakota State Rural Development Director, Elsie Meeks joined Tribal and Housing Authority leaders to celebrate the partnerships and collaboration that made it a momentous day.  Joining the leaders were Sandra Henriquez, Assistant Secretary for Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) Public and Indian Housing and other HUD officials.  Both officials spoke of their agency’s commitment to work together and share the responsibility to honor and support the housing needs for the Sioux nation.

In 1960, Tribal Chairman Johnson Holy Rock initiated an effort to get the then presidential candidate Senator John F. Kennedy to include an Indian housing initiative in his campaign.  The initiative called for expanding the federal public housing program onto Indian reservations to address reservation housing conditions.   Johnson Holy Rock continued to work with the White House and President Kennedy bringing in a new era of federal tribal housing assistance.

(Left to right) is Sandra Henriquez, Assistant Secretary for Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) Public and Indian Housing and USDA Rural Development State Director, Elsie M. Meeks stand together in front of the newly constructed Oglala Sioux Lakota Housing Authority administration building.
(Left to right) is Sandra Henriquez, Assistant Secretary for Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) Public and Indian Housing and USDA Rural Development State Director, Elsie M. Meeks stand together in front of the newly constructed Oglala Sioux Lakota Housing Authority administration building.

The new administration building is named in honor of Johnson Holy Rock and his vision for the Oglala Sioux Tribe and Indian tribes in general.  Over 100 community members attended the building dedication, sharing in the celebration.  The building will house over 120 OSLHA staff and is built utilizing green building and energy conservation techniques.

To find out how USDA’s Community Facilities Program can help your community achieve its goals, click here.

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