Colleen Bickford, director for the Alaska Field Office for the U.S. Department of Housing and Development, and Jeffrey McMorris, regional administrator in charge of Alaska, Idaho, Oregon and Washington for HUD, speak after an announcement of a $1 million grant to the Tlingit and Haida Regional Housing Authority to help veteran’s housing needs in Southeast Alaska on Thursday, Oct. 3, 2019. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

Colleen Bickford, director for the Alaska Field Office for the U.S. Department of Housing and Development, and Jeffrey McMorris, regional administrator in charge of Alaska, Idaho, Oregon and Washington for HUD, speak after an announcement of a $1 million grant to the Tlingit and Haida Regional Housing Authority to help veteran’s housing needs in Southeast Alaska on Thursday, Oct. 3, 2019. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

Tlingit and Haida gets more than $1 million in housing grants

The money will benefit inefficient houses and veterans

A pair of Department of Housing and Urban Development programs will give grants totaling more than $1 million dollars to the Tlingit-Haida Regional Housing Authority.

“Tlingit and Haida is a tremendous partner,” said Colleen Bickford, director of the Alaska field office for HUD, during a press conference announcing the grants. “You guys are a model for the state.”

The funding comes for two programs. THRHA was awarded $1 million for the Healthy Homes Tribal Production Grant, which helps create a healthy environment in homes, addressing things like air quality, heating and energy efficiency, said Jacky Pata, the president and CEO of THRHA. The HUD-Veteran’s Affairs Supportive Housing grant was $227,000, and will be used to help house homeless veterans, Pata said.

“In Alaska, you have to partner with other people and leverage other programs to spread the money as far as it possibly can go,” Pata said.

[New technology brings old Tlingit hat back to Alaska]

The programs partnered between HUD and THRHA are about two years old, said Jeff McMorris, regional administrator for HUD.

“It’s been a long time since we’ve offered these programs on the tribal side,” McMorris said. “There’s a lot of need, especially with the climate up here.”

The Healthy Homes grant will go towards about 30 homes in Skagway, Juneau, Angoon, and Saxman, Pata said. It will help fund things like dealing with mold, installing heat pumps, making sure there’s no lead in the plumbing, and replacing water heaters.

The HUD-VASH program is more focused on helping homeless veterans through rent subsidies and VA services tailored to the veteran’s needs. THRHA was awarded 20 vouchers for the program, or roughly $227,000, Bickford said.

“We aren’t looking to put all 20 of our vouchers in Juneau,” Pata said. “We wanted to let our veterans live in their own communities.”

Colleen Bickford, director for the Alaska Field Office for the U.S. Department of Housing and Development, and Jeffrey McMorris, regional administrator in charge of Alaska, Idaho, Oregon and Washington for HUD, speak after an announcement of a $1 million grant to the Tlingit and Haida Regional Housing Authority to help veteran’s housing needs in Southeast Alaska on Thursday, Oct. 3, 2019. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

Colleen Bickford, director for the Alaska Field Office for the U.S. Department of Housing and Development, and Jeffrey McMorris, regional administrator in charge of Alaska, Idaho, Oregon and Washington for HUD, speak after an announcement of a $1 million grant to the Tlingit and Haida Regional Housing Authority to help veteran’s housing needs in Southeast Alaska on Thursday, Oct. 3, 2019. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

Pata said that one of the most difficult parts of distributing the support from the HUD-VASH grant was identifying veterans in need of their services. In many cases, she said, the VA has no idea who or how many veterans are living in the communities.

“We’ve been working with the tribes to create their own rolls and not to rely in the VA,” Pata said. “There’s a lot of veterans in Southeast Alaska that are unidenitified by the HUD.”

Another $2.53 million went to other tribal authorities in Alaska under the Healthy Homes grant.


• Contact reporter Michael S. Lockett at 523-2271 or mlockett@juneauempire.com.


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