Nancy McCause, United Keetoowah Band Housing Department director, right, speaks with a UKB citizen during a housing assistance information meeting on May 11 at the Fairfield Community Building in Stilwell. McCause also discussed existing and upcoming housing programs, including tiny homes for elders while passing out pamphlets detailing individual programs. BRITTNEY BENNETT/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
United Keetoowah Band discusses current, upcoming housing programs
United Keetoowah Band housing assessment surveys and information bags are distributed during a May 11 meeting at the Fairfield Community Building in Stilwell. UKB Chief Joe Bunch said data from the surveys, which would be distributed and accepted until June 29, were to be used to determine housing needs for citizens. BRITTNEY BENNETT/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
STILWELL – The United Keetoowah Band Housing Department and tribal officials met with UKB citizens in the Flint and Goingsnake districts to distribute housing aid information and assessment surveys on May 11 at the Fairfield Community Building.
“In the past, some things kept people from receiving services or they’ve gotten frustrated with the application process and gathering documents,” UKB Chief Joe Bunch said. “It’s really not that hard but sometimes you need guidance. We’ve got a great staff out there working.”
The meeting followed the formation of a UKB Housing Committee, Councilor Frankie Still said.
“When I first got in office there was no such thing as a housing committee, so a group of us got together to try and see what we could do to help,” he said. “We’ve come a long ways in about a year and four months to detangle all this mess. This information wasn’t getting out, it wasn’t being brought out.”
Various assistance programs were discussed, including mortgage and rental, college student rental, storm shelter and rehabilitation and emergency repairs.
According to distributed information, mortgage assistance for eligible citizens who are first-time homeowners is available for up to $10,000, while rental assistance is available for up to one month of rent or up to $750 towards deposit fees for new renters. Eligible full-time college students can also receive up to $1,200 per semester for housing costs.
For eligible citizens who own homes but need assistance, the UKB offers a rehabilitation program that provides up to $35,000 and an emergency repairs program that grants up to $5,000.
Weather-related assistance is also available. UKB is offering eligible citizens storm shelter assistance up to $2,500, as well as air conditioners and help with cooling bills through the Oklahoma Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program.
UKB Housing Director Nancy McCause said citizens should stop by her office for applications even if they’ve been previously denied help. “They need to come to our office and apply. It could be that they didn’t fit into one program, but we can help them decide which way they need to go.”
McCause also said other programs the tribe will pursue in the upcoming year include Section 184 Indian Home Loan Guarantees through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, as well as tiny homes for elders.
“We’re really excited about the tiny homes for elders,” she said. “It kind of evolved over our housing meetings because names kept coming up of elders that were just living in travel trailers and things like that. So the more we looked into this, the more excited we got. We’ve already got about three applicants for it. We’re getting ready to pick a design and go with it. We’re very close.”
Sean Nordwall, UKB Tribal Operations and Federal Programs executive director, said the UKB is also looking at buying land to build duplexes for tribal housing and offering lease-to-own options.
“With the lease-to-own, you would work through the tribe, so people with not-so-spectacular credit should be able to make it work,” he said. “You just have to come by and it would be a case-by-case basis. We’re trying to make it as easy as possible for our members to get into a good place to live. We really want to help the people and do what we can to get the services out because we’re very much underserved.”
In addition to discussing current and upcoming housing projects, officials distributed housing assessment surveys to citizens to better understand what services are most needed.
“We will compare it with what we already have, and we’ll put it back into the next year’s budget and see which way we can go with it,” Bunch said. “Feel free to write in what you think your community needs.”
UKB officials said more meetings are planned to get the surveys to citizens, but for those who can’t attend, surveys can be picked up and returned to the UKB Federal Programs Building. Data will be collected until June 29.
For more information, call 918-871-2773 or visit the UKB Housing Department at 18263 W. Keetoowah Circle in Tahlequah.
TAHLEQUAH – The Cherokee Nation’s Election Commission wants to ensure that eligible CN citizens register to vote in the tribe’s 2019 general election, which is set for June 1.
According to an EC press release, CN citizens who are at least 18 years old, or will be 18 on the day of the general election, must register to vote by midnight CST on March 29.
The release also states that people who have never registered to vote or who aren’t registered in the districts of their respective residences, as well as people who are registered but need to change their registration information, may register by completing and submitting CN voter registration applications on or before the voter registration deadline.
According to the release, voters with new 911 addresses will also need to complete voter registration applications, updating their address information on or before March 29.
“Now is the time to check and make sure you are registered to vote. Citizens are encouraged to check with the Election Commission office and to verify the information is correct,” Elections Director Connie Parnell said. “With Cherokee Nation Holiday fast approaching the Election Commission will be attending the holiday celebration. The Election Commission will provide voter registration stations for the visitors to check on their registrations.”
Parnell said the registration stations would be located in the W.W. Keeler Tribal Complex during open house and the Courthouse Square during the parade and State of the Union Address.
Voter registration forms can be requested or submitted in person, by U.S. mail, email or fax. Forms are available online at <a href="http://www.cherokee.org/elections.aspx" target="_blank">www.cherokee.org/elections.aspx</a> or in the Election Commission Office at 17763 S. Muskogee Ave. To mail a request, send the request to Cherokee Nation Election Commission, P.O. Box 1188, Tahlequah, OK 74465-1188. To submit an email request, email <a href="mailto: email@example.com">firstname.lastname@example.org</a>. For a fax request, dial 918-458-6101.
According to the release, the EC responds in writing to every person who submits a voter registration application. The response is either a voter notification card listing the new voter’s district number or a letter explaining why the application for voter registration was not approved. Any person who has submitted a voter registration application and has not received a response within 30 days should contact the EC, the release states.
Parnell said the EC also plans to provide voter outreach efforts at events and locations such as community meetings, health clinics, high schools and technology centers within the tribe’s jurisdiction.
For more information, call 918-458-5899 or toll free at 1-800-353-2895.
TULSA – Cherokee Nation Management & Consulting, a subsidiary of Cherokee Nation Businesses, has secured two indefinite-delivery contracts with the U.S. Army.
“We are pleased to continue growing our relationship with the Department of Defense and the U.S. Army,” Steven Bilby, CNB’s diversified businesses president, said. “It is a great honor and privilege to serve the brave men and women of the U.S. Armed Forces who serve our country so bravely.”
Through the Office of the Secretary of Defense, the tribally owned company will provide the U.S. Army with professional support to ensure sustainable and ready operational services and enhance the ability of the U.S. military forces to fight and meet the demands of the national military strategy.
CNMC will provide a skilled team of analysts and specialists to support the OASA IEE and its Energy and Sustainability Directorates in focus areas such as environment, safety and occupational health, strategic integration, installations, housing, and partnerships.
“We are proud to have these opportunities,” Scott Edwards, CNMC operations general manager, said. “As a company, we are dedicated to providing first-class service, and we’re looking forward to deploying the expertise and skills of our team to support the vital mission of the U.S. military.”
CNMC is fulfilling a $10 million, four-year contract with the Department of Defense and a $15 million, three-year contract supporting the Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Installations, Energy and Environment.
CNMC formed in 2013, provides technical support services and project support personnel to its defense and civilian agency partners. It’s headquartered in Tulsa and is part of the CNB family of companies. For more information, visit <a href="http://www.cherokeenationbusinesses.com" target="_blank">www.cherokeenationbusinesses.com</a>.
HULBERT – Cherokee Nation officials recently distributed $138,400 to 27 law enforcement agencies that patrol within the tribe’s jurisdictional area.
CN officials recently gave $15,000 and $10,000 to the Hulbert and Okay police departments, respectively.
According to a CN press release, the Hulbert funds were provided through the Tribal Council’s annual law enforcement funds. Tribal Councilors Joe Byrd, Rex Jordan and David Walkingstick each dedicated a portion of their allocated funds.
“This donation means a great deal to me and my department,” Hulbert Police Chief Casey Rowe said. “Our budget is so short and it’s such a small department that having this extra $15,000 helps us make it through the year. I don’t think our department could make it without it. It’s a great thing.”
Okay Mayor Bradley Mathews said the $10,000 donation helps fund a contract with the Wagoner County Sheriff’s Office for law enforcement service in the community.
“When we get assistance like this, it goes toward meeting our goals and what our community expects to be provided,” Mathews said. “Without the help of the Cherokee Nation, there are a lot of things we wouldn’t be able to do, and this is just one more example of that.”
Aside from monetary donations provided to agencies, the tribe frequently donates surplus equipment, including vehicles, to police departments and sheriff’s offices.
Tribal Councilors Keith Austin and Janees Taylor also recently distributed more than $55,000 to 16 Rogers and Mayes counties law enforcement agencies.
Austin distributed $3,500 each to Rogers State University police, Oologah police, the Rogers County Sheriff’s Department, Chelsea police, Claremore police and the 12th District Attorney’s Office. He also contributed $1,750 each to Collinsville, Verdigris and Talala police departments.
Taylor distributed $3,500 each to Locust Grove police, Pryor police, Mayes County Sheriff’s Department, Rogers County Sheriff’s Department, Salina police, Inola police and Chouteau police. She also contributed $1,750 each to Verdigris police and Claremore police, as well as $1,000 to the Cherokee Nation Marshal Service.
Rogers County Sheriff Scott Walton said his department is using the donation to purchase a canine officer that would benefit not only the sheriff’s office but also other area departments.
“County law enforcement is kind of at the bottom of the food chain when it comes to funding for our needs, so I don’t visualize being able to make it without partners like the Cherokee Nation,” Walton said. “With the Cherokee Nation’s donation, we are able to purchase some of our core, fundamental needs. We’re so blessed to have these kinds of community partners, and the tribe is always there for us and listening to us.”
Mayes County Sheriff Mike Reed said his agency is upgrading its communications equipment by purchasing 800 megahertz radios for deputies.
“It means a lot to us to receive Cherokee Nation’s support,” Reed said. “We appreciate what the tribe provides us.”
Tribal officials also distributed $58,400 to law enforcement agencies in Tribal Council districts 5 and 6, which encompass all of Sequoyah County and part of Muskogee County.
Of the $58,400 distributed, the Sequoyah County Sheriff’s Department received $12,000, and the Braggs, Gore, Marble City, Muldrow, Roland, Sallisaw, Vian and Webbers Falls police departments each received $5,800.
For Sequoyah County Sheriff Larry Lane, partnerships with the CN are an important resource.
“Anything we need, we know we can call the tribe, and they are always great to work with,” he said.
Twenty percent of the revenue from the tribe’s motor vehicle tax is used to fund the annual law enforcement donations.
TAHLEQUAH – The Cherokee Phoenix is now taking names of elders and military veterans to provide free subscriptions of its monthly newspaper.
In November, Cherokee Nation Businesses donated $10,000 to the Cherokee Phoenix’s Elder/Veteran Fund. The fund provides free subscriptions of its monthly newspaper to elders 65 and older and military veterans who are Cherokee Nation citizens. Subscription rates are $10 for one year.
“The Elder/Veteran Fund was put into place to provide free subscriptions to our Cherokee elders and veterans,” Executive Editor Brandon Scott said. “Some of our elders and veterans are on a very limited budget, and other items have a priority over buying a newspaper subscription. The donations we receive have a real world impact on our elders and veterans, so every dollar donated to the Elder Fund is significant.”
Using the Elder/Veteran Fund, elders who are 65 and older as well as veterans can apply to receive a free one-year subscription by visiting, calling or writing the Cherokee Phoenix office and requesting a subscription.
The Cherokee Phoenix office is located in the Annex Building on the W.W. Keeler Tribal Complex. The postal address is Cherokee Phoenix, P.O. Box 948, Tahlequah, OK 74465. To call about the fund, call 918-207-4975 or 918-453-5269 or email email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.
No income guidelines have been specified for the Cherokee Phoenix Elder/Veteran Fund, and free subscriptions will be given as long as funds last.
Tax-deductible donations for the fund can also be sent to the Cherokee Phoenix by check or money order specifying the donation for the Cherokee Phoenix Elder/Veteran Fund. Cash is also accepted at the Cherokee Phoenix offices and local events where Cherokee Phoenix staff members are accepting Elder/Veteran Fund donations.
The Cherokee Phoenix also has a free website, <a href="http://www.cherokeephoenix.org" target="_blank">www.cherokeephoenix.org</a>, that posts news seven days a week about the Cherokee government, people, history and events of interest. The monthly newspaper is also posted in PDF format to the website at the beginning of each month.
TAHLEQUAH – The United Keetoowah Band is finalizing building plans and will soon move forward with its Elder Home Project, a pilot program to construct small, energy efficient homes for low-income elders ages 55 and older.
“There was a need for housing for some of our elders who lived in substandard housing conditions, but we didn’t necessarily want to put them in a big two-bedroom, three-bedroom house because they really can’t afford to live in a house that big,” Charles Deason, UKB Housing Department development manager, said. “We got to researching different housing options and it was kind of born from there.”
Deason said the project is expected to begin within “60 to 90 days” using approved contractors via a bidding process. He described the homes as “cottages” on permanent foundations ranging from 500 to 1,000 square feet.
“It will have insurance ratings, and it will be built to the national building codes, and it will be a standard home. They’ll be fully equipped when we give you the keys, minus the furniture. It will have all the appliances and all the amenities of a regular home. It’ll just be a small home. We’re looking to do two to three this year and next year, depending on the amount of applications and the participation that we have. We hope to maybe increase that.”
The homes are intended for one to two occupants.
“That’s like a single elder who may have a caregiver that stays with them part-time or an elder that has just been displaced and maybe having to live with family members and they just kind of want to be independent, but still be close to their families,” Deason said.
Applicants must own land in the UKB’s operating area and will be selected based on a point system that relies on various factors to determine eligibility and need.
“The basic requirements are that you have to be Native American. Another that you have to have is a minimum income amount with HUD (U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development),” Deason said. “We also give preference to exclusive Keetoowahs. We give preference to elders. The program is for 55 and up, but we give more points to those that are 62 and older. We also give preference to those that are full blood. We take all of those things into consideration.”
Deason said once all applications have been received, the UKB Housing Department would evaluate them before passing recommendations to the UKB Housing Committee.
The homes will take approximately 45 days to complete once building starts, and the budget would vary depending on the occupant’s needs.
“We’re looking at somewhere around $50,000 as the total,” he said. “It could be more. It could be a little less, but that’s our target budget for each home. Each one will have a different value depending on the amount of work that is having to be done. We’re wanting to do cost-effective and energy efficient housing.”
The homes will be primarily funded through the Native American Housing Assistance and Self-Determination Act. “It is NAHASDA monies. It’s set aside. We’ve also realigned some budget items, and we’re using acquisition funds in acquiring homes for these particular individuals. Funds are limited,” Deason said.
Occupants will own their homes after making income-based monthly payments on a 10-year loan, though the UKB will cover any applicable taxes and insurance for the duration, Deason said.
“We’re still kind of learning as we go,” he said. “We hope to have it streamlined one of these days, but right now we’re still trying to figure out all the bugs that might be in it. Our elders are what we’re all about. If it wasn’t for the elders, none of us would be here.”
Applications are available at the UKB Housing Department and upon request by phone by calling 918-871-2773. The deadline for applications is July 2. Completed applications may be delivered or mailed to the UKB Housing Department at P.O. Box 746, Tahlequah, OK 74465.
TAHLEQUAH – Cherokee Nation leaders on May 3 signed an agreement with the Community Food Bank of Eastern Oklahoma to create a mobile food bank at the tribe’s Veterans Center for qualified veterans, their families and their widows on a quarterly basis.
“We had a wonderful signing ceremony with (Principal) Chief (Bill John) Baker, signifying our partnership,” CFBEO Executive Director Eileen Bradshaw said. “The program focuses on veterans and their food security.”
The CFBEO is a member of the national Feeding America network and delivers food to clients in eastern Oklahoma’s 24 counties through its network of 465 partner programs.
However, the partnership didn’t get into full swing until May 29 when Veterans Center staff, CN administrators and employees, as well as federal officials, bagged and distributed approximately 10,000 pounds of food to qualified veterans.
Cherokee veteran Allan Johnson said he’s grateful for the assistance. “I have to live within a limited budget from disability and, this program is going to help my quality of life.”
Veterans Center Executive Director Barbara Foreman said she was pleased with the program’s first food distribution.
“The event was a wonderful success, which assisted 117 veteran families who received tickets. With the extra food after the event, we assisted about eight more veterans who heard about the program but were unaware of the process,” she said. “The feedback was good, and we know the veterans appreciated our efforts very much. We will continue with our efforts to assist our veterans with this food outreach program every 90 days.”
The next mobile food pantry is scheduled for August. Foreman said the Veterans Center compares schedules with the food bank and that it would try to schedule distributions every 90 days. She said the center would contact veterans and widows of veterans regarding the next distribution.
Foreman also said the center doesn’t receive a list of food items and that she doesn’t know what food they will be distributing until they take it off the truck.
“The food is based on the donations received at the food bank warehouse,” she said.
She added that the Veterans Center receives 125 tickets for veterans and widows on a first-come, first-serve basis. Foreman said if a veteran or widow has five or more people in the household, they receive two tickets.
For more information on the Veterans Center and mobile food bank, call 918-772-4166. For more information about the CFBEO, visit <a href="http://www.okfoodbank.org" target="_blank">okfoodbank.org</a> or call 918-585-2800.