The Housing Construction Workforce at the unit site.
By JEREMY SHAY
FORT HALL — The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) awarded the Fort Hall Housing Authority funding under the Indian Housing Block Grant Program CARES Act on June 17, 2020.
An approved activity of the funding was to purchase four isolation manufactured units for individuals or families that need to be quarantined to reduce the spread of the COVID-19 virus. Fort Hall Housing Authority Director Lorraine Shay said once the grant was received they immediately started the search for available units. “We were fortunate to locate four manufactured units from several Idaho vendors that they had on their lots.”
Shay said Housing is coordinating with the Sho-Ban Tribal Office of Emergency Management (TOEM). “When the units become ready for occupancy, the team will determine who will be placed and for how long, and monitor the clients and prepare the units for the next client.” The units will be located on the Fort Hall Townsite.
Interior of the kitchen in the first unit.
The size of the units ranges from 536 square-feet to 924 square-feet and each meet HUD standard building requirements. Shay said there will be a different number of bedrooms in each unit “two will be 2-bedroom units, one 1-bedroom and one 3-bedroom.” She said Housing will be providing basic furniture for each unit.
Shay said currently the Housing Construction Workforce is preparing the site by pouring concrete slabs, and setting the units. “We have a staff licensed electrician and plumber connecting the electrical service, water and sewer to the existing services. Last week our Construction Manager Clint Williams passed the Idaho State MFG installer examination in order to be compliant with Idaho state manufacture setting requirements, and will receive his state license issued under the Idaho Division of Building Safety.”
“The first unit was delivered on September 8 and we are currently hooking it up and preparing it. The other three will be delivered as soon as the sites are ready and we are anticipating they will be delivered the first full week in October.” She included that Housing will be paying for the utilities and the grant funds must be expended by December 31, 2020. “We are on track in spending the funds by that time,” said Shay.
Wood work for the porches that will be built in front of the housing unit.
“We are hoping COVID-19 is eliminated by the end of the year and at that time the units will be turned into regular units and managed in accordance with our required Housing policy and HUD regulations," said Shay.
Fort Hall Business Council attends virtual meeting with the BIA.
By ROSELYNN YAZZIE
FORT HALL — The Fort Hall Business Council had a virtual meeting with BIA Northwest Regional Director Bryan Mercier and Fort Hall Agency Acting Superintendent Preston Smith on September 10 to discuss various topics.
One of the main concerns discussed was brought up by Fort Hall Business Council Chairman Devon Boyer, who asked how much involvement do allottees have in range management as far as the Bureau is concerned?
Mercier said the allottees have some involvement, but not extensive because there are just too many allottees and interest holders to allow for that.
Typically, the BIA are responsible for the lease management and the negotiations, and they try to keep them up to date of changes of the market rates and bids that come in.
Smith said his experience working with allotted lands on range is they’ve always had an open-door policy with allottees when they have questions regarding their land because they want them to be ensured their land is leased and they’re informed of permits on it, and they get their payments on time.
He’s heard some folks are not getting as much money as they normally would, most range leases the rates usually go up. It used to be when a range payout came it was in one big check. Now days, it’s relative to when the leasee pays in then that money is turned over and it’s distributed to the allottees. In some cases, they probably thinking they’re getting less money, when actually they’re getting a little more money than what they normally do.
FHBC member Nathan Small said there are a lot of allottees who have approached the council expressing they no idea what is going on.
Smith said he’s more than willing to send out notifications and it's stuff like this they need to hear and wants to improve the knowledge base.
Shoshone-Bannock elder Zelphia Towersap was in attendance to ask questions and wanted both parties to identify solutions to the issues.
She talked about how it was difficult to read her lease statement and said BIA never told her she has land in Caribou County. She’s asked who owns the most land on her allotment, but was told to figure it out. She gets a report from BIA every three months, but said the paperwork doesn’t tell you much but talks about grazing and agriculture. From the reports and looking into the amounts of checks received she feels like the numbers don’t add up.
“Who do you trust, do you trust your Tribal leaders? A lot of times we blame them. We never blame the BIA,” she said, adding when you start to do the research there are a lot of questions BIA does not do.
For instance, this is the time they’re supposed to negotiate with their lease, but they can’t negotiate or go to the office due to COVID restrictions. She sees non-Native people getting more money for the acres they own and lease off the reservation.
Her frustration was to find out who they need to go to, to listen.
Her daughter, Yvette Tuell, said it’s an important issue for her mother to understand how her land is being managed and who has control and how is she able to give input into the management of those lands. She said she has the paperwork from her land well documented and she wants to understand. Every time she goes to BIA she seems to not get the answers she’s looking for.
“In some of these questions they really do reveal a real deficiency in both the BIA and on the tribal side,” said Tuell. She tried to explain to her the Tribes 638 portions of the range program and they don’t hear anything of who has what responsibility in terms of talking to individual landowners.
Tuell said she points out landowners have little opportunity to give input for when it comes to grazing.
“Everyone focuses on the big management of farm leases, of other types of right of way leases but they don’t spend a lot of time looking at grazing,” she said.
She wants to know how BIA conducts consultations with individual allottees? Do they only reach out to them with just letters? Tuell said she doesn't think people understand what they’re getting in the mail.
After the meeting, Tuell said the main point of the meeting was the commitment of the Regional Director to have the Fort Hall Acting Superintendent reach out to individual allottees and explain the leasing process for grazing.