WASHINGTON -The National American Indian Housing Council (NAIHC), the only national Indian organization advocating solely on behalf of tribal housing issues, had words of thanks for President Barack Obama upon signing the Indian Veterans Housing Opportunity Act into law. The Veterans' Act was passed in the Senate on September 29.
The Veterans' Act amends the Native American Housing Assistance and Self Determination Act (NAHASDA) to be consistent with the IRS Tax Code and other federal statutes and regulations by excluding income received by a veteran, or his or her family, for service-related disability, dependency, or indemnity from the definition of "income" under NAHASDA. The bill was originally introduced by Representative Ann Kirkpatrick (D-AZ) in the House and by Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) and co-sponsored by Senator John Thune (R-SD) in the Senate.
"On behalf of the NAIHC Board of Directors and membership, I extend sincere gratitude to President Obama for signing the bill into law and recognizing that our native veterans deserve the opportunity for safe and affordable housing," said NAIHC Chairwoman Cheryl A. Causley. "I also want to thank Congress for its bi-partisan efforts to introduce and pass this legislation. It is with their leadership that this bill is able to help many veterans and their families."
The Navajo Housing Authority received concerns that veterans were ineligible for NAHASDA housing programs when they returned from military service. The Navajo Nation and the housing authority approached Rep. Kirkpatrick regarding a possible legislative fix, which started the bill's momentum.
"We have worked hard together to right this wrong. With our victory, more of America's heroes will be able to move into higher quality housing with their families, and communities across Indian Country will grow stronger," Rep. Kirkpatrick said in a news release. "However, enacting this law is just one of many steps we must take to help the tribes create new and better opportunities in Indian Country. I am committed to continuing my efforts on behalf of Native Americans, and I will keep fighting to make Congress work for them. Together, we can overcome the many obstacles we face and blaze a path to a brighter future."