Changes to housing qualifications approved

WINDOW ROCK, Ariz. — The Navajo Nation Council approved legislation Jan. 26, which seeks to lower the number of Navajo Housing Authority Board of Commissioners, change qualifications for them and to create a nomination committee for the board.

The legislation would change Title 6 of the Navajo Nation Code to change the Navajo Housing Authority (NHA) Board of Commissioners from eight to five members.

Navajo Nation President Russell Begaye will have 10 calendar days to consider the Council resolution once it is sent to the Office of the President and Vice President for consideration.

On Jan. 27, the Navajo Housing Authority released a press release responding to the council’s action.

“NHA vows to deliver a strong governance system as we continue to deliver on the important mission of bringing affordable housing to the Navajo Nation,” NHA’s statement said. “Before this legislation becomes law, the Navajo Nation President must sign the bill. While we await the president’s decision, NHA will continue to push for meeting its housing goals.”

Council Delegate Alton Joe Shepherd (Jeddito, Cornfields, Ganado, Kin Dah Lichíí, Steamboat) said he sponsored the legislation as a means to improve the management of the housing authority and to allow the enterprise to make progress by improving qualification criteria.

“Management is important for setting fundamental direction for NHA, Shepherd said. Shepherd serves as the chair of the Resources and Development Committee that serves as the oversight authority for NHA. “By requiring members to have professional experience and backgrounds provides an avenue to bring home our young Navajo professional to help NHA,”

The current criteria only requires the members to have some formal education or three years of leadership experience in a local unit of government, in addition to having the members reside in certain states and agencies. Residential requirements and agency representation would no longer be part of the criteria with the amended language.

The amended language calls for one member of the board to be a certified public accountant, chartered financial analyst, or accountant; one member to be a registered architect or licensed professional engineer; one member to have construction management or engineering or business management or Indian housing or federal housing field experience. The resolution also restricts all council members and former NHA employees, who worked for NHA within the past three years, from serving as board members. Two members would represent the tenants and homebuyers participating in programs administered by NHA.

Additionally, all commissioners would be required to have post-high school education and employment experience in business operations, architecture, construction management, finance, accounting, investing, or in other specialized areas of construction or business that correspond to the activities or anticipated activities of NHA.

If signed into law, the resolution would also create a nomination committee composed of the president, speaker, and a Resources and Development Committee designee, who would then be confirmed by the Naabik’iyátí’ Committee.

Council members voted 11-8 to approve the legislation. Begaye will have 10 calendar days to consider the council resolution once it is sent to the Office of the President and Vice President for consideration.

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