Hopi housing complex opens in Winslow

One of the new units that the Hopi Tribal Housing Authority celebrated opening Jan. 9 in Winslow, Arizona.

Photo by Todd Roth, for the Navajo-Hopi Observer.

One of the new units that the Hopi Tribal Housing Authority celebrated opening Jan. 9 in Winslow, Arizona.

WINSLOW, Ariz. —The Hopi Tribal Housing Authority (HTHA) showcased an open house of 40 new homes in Winslow, Arizona Jan. 9 that ranged from one to five bedrooms on land purchased by the Hopi Tribe.

Wes Corben, executive director for HTHA, said that the project initially started about two years ago. The project was approved in late 2015 but with winter, the project got a rough start.

“We didn’t get the start we wanted to get on the project,” Corben said.

In addition, there were a few barriers along the way. Corben assumed command of the project in September 2016. The board of the housing authority was concerned with projects within the housing authority and reevaluated all the projects including the Winslow houses.

“We did a reevaluation on all the projects and were able to find a number of deficiencies with where we were with compliance and regulations,” Corben said. “We worked backward to correct those and it took some time to complete the project.”

But Corben said, with support from the Hopi Tribal Council and working with local agencies, the housing authority was able to overcome the setbacks and issues and get the project moving back in the right direction. But that was not the end of all the problems.

In early 2017, it was found that the Hopi Tribal Housing Authority failed to obtain the proper documents to get power connected to the site.

“The staff worked hard to make sure we were in compliance before any further activity happened, that we got the right documents in place, got through tribal council and we were able to get the power connected and the project finished out here on Dec. 30,” Corben said.

With 40 units at the site, Corben said he has a majority of three bedroom houses available, one five bedroom and one two bedroom available.

“A majority of our units are filled,” Corben said. “About 26 units are filled and we are pending 14 more applications to be approved and the units to hopefully be filled before the end of the month of January.”

People were able to fill out applications to move in and there is Hopi preference, even with the federal funds.

“It’s been a really good opportunity for our people,” Corben said. “We really haven’t had this kind of project done in a long time. It’s been a great number of years. This project has been on the shelf, we’ve been finding documents as far back as 1994/5, so it’s been a good 20 years for this project.”

The project has been a learning experience for the housing authority. Corben said they found that they lacked experience but through trial and error, the staff gained the experience necessary to continue to be successful moving forward.

“If we want to look at in a positive, it was a win win for everyone,” he said. “We developed a great team, we’ve developed great resources. We’ve connected with the city of Winslow and we’ve touched base and made some good communication with everybody. We’re excited about this project in itself.”

Corben said he understands that Winslow is not the preferred place for Hopi to build new homes because the Hopi Reservation is so far from Winslow.

“But, at this point, it’s the only area where we’ve been given opportunity to build without protest or anyone coming to hold our project due to cultural clan lands crossing or conflict between families or anything like that,” Corben said. “With it being designated tribal land, the council has designated us portions of land to build in and it was easy to complete.”


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