One year ago, the Wrangell Cooperative Association announced it received a $600,000 federal grant to redo 20 homes in Wrangell. Those homeowners were finally notified of what upgrades they could expect from the Tlingit and Haida Housing Authority, which administers the grant.
Harry Churchill held his letter outlining everything that will be fixed in his home.
“What are they going to do to my house. Oh boy, I’ll tell you what. First of all they’ll put in a heat pump,” said Churchill, he’s got a Toyo heater right now. “I’ll get rid of that Laser 56, then I’ll have a heat pump, and I’ll be in good shape.”
And he’s getting a lot more than that. A new bathroom, carpet, lighting, roofing.
Those selected are receiving roughly $34,000 in home improvements, from federal and state grants.
Kyle Lewis is Native, has a family of four, and said he doesn’t make that much money. So getting a heat pump, electrical repairs, new doors and more, is a big deal.
Preference was given to applicants who are native, elderly, have small children or are low-income. And obviously in need of some serious home-repairs.
The bulk of the money comes from a federal Indian Community Development Block Grant. It’s called the “Healthy Homes Program” and is administered by the Tlingit and Haida Regional Housing Authority.
The housing authority came to Wrangell to distribute these notifications, and make an apology for the delayed response.
Applicants were left wondering after they submitted their applications in late February. Homes were assessed, but work that was anticipated to begin last year never came.
“Recently we’ve received quite a bit of grants. So it’s great news for us and our community. It also leaves us scrambling a bit needing to get the right people on board to administer those grants and to carry out the work,” said Desiree Jackson, the Director of Tribal Services.
She said the housing authority wants to do better moving forward.
“We’re really putting an emphasize on communication, so we’re looking at how we can every step of the way communicate with our tribal members and tribal partners,” Jackson said.
The grant runs up in 2020. Even though work was delayed, the housing authority says it has enough wiggle room to get repairs done by the end of the year.
It will select six more homeowners to round out the program’s 20 homes. There is no need to reapply, Tglingit and Haida will pull from backlogged applications.
Home upgrades should begin this April.