Development Committee approves amendments to Homesite Lease program

WINDOW ROCK, Ariz. — The Resources and Development Committee (RDC) convened Jan. 31 to address critical amendments to the Homesite Lease Regulations 2016. The committee unanimously approved Legislation 0025-24, marking a significant milestone in the Navajo Nation’s efforts to streamline infrastructure development, particularly for homes existing prior to Oct. 4, 2016.

Under the previous regulations, Navajo homeowners faced obstacles in utilizing American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds for infrastructure improvements due to restrictions on commencing construction activities without approved homesite leases.

“There are thousands of existing homes on the Navajo Nation that do not have valid homesite leases where homeowners are using ARPA funding to install basic infrastructure like restroom additions. It’s unfair to these homeowners that they can’t move forward because of the restrictive procedures in the Homesite Lease Regulations 2016,” said RDC Chairwoman Brenda Jesus (Oaksprings, St. Michaels). “These historic amendments will streamline the process for homeowners who are up against the ARPA deadline to get critical infrastructure built.”

The approved amendments pave the way for homeowners to proceed with basic infrastructure projects funded by ARPA upon submission of homesite lease applications to the Navajo Land Department. These amendments, valid until Dec. 31, 2026, aim to expedite the application and approval process, ensuring timely implementation of essential upgrades.

Furthermore, the amendments permit the construction of septic systems or leach/drain fields outside leased premises under certain conditions, including obtaining permits from the Navajo Nation Environmental Protection Agency and compliance with applicable laws. This flexibility, not tied to any funding source or expiration date, aims to address infrastructure challenges efficiently.

“Many Navajo Tribal members live in areas where infrastructure improvements are already challenging. These challenges coupled with restrictive policies governing infrastructure improvement are putting certain ARPA projects at risk. It shouldn’t be that hard to add a septic system to a homesite,” said RDC Vice-chairman Casey Allen Johnson. “The RDC assessed these challenges and worked to clear a path forward to close these disparity gaps.”

Jesus expressed gratitude for the collaborative efforts involved in amending the regulations, emphasizing the importance of expediting ARPA-funded projects to meet community needs.

The Resources and Development Committee voted unanimously to approve Legislation 0025-24. The RDC is the final authority for this legislation.

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