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Cherokee Nation signs legislation to allocate $120 million toward affordable housing, Cherokee speaker villages

Posted at 11:14 PM, Mar 31, 2022
and last updated 2022-04-01 14:21:42-04

TULSA, Okla. — The Cherokee Nation has earmarked 120 million to spend on housing to help citizens with affordable housing and fix the homes they have, while also helping preserve the Cherokee language.

"First of all I thank the Lord Jesus Christ for giving me a new home,” Leona Bendabout, a Cherokee citizen said.

Bendabout loves her new home. She moved into it last Monday. It's located in a Cherokee-speaking village.

“It feels good that you know somebody that is going to be your neighbor that talks Cherokee,” Bendabout said.

She is one of two thousand people who still speak the Cherokee language.

“I was speaking Cherokee since I was little,” Bendabout said.

Leona Bendabout is also one of the hundreds of Cherokee citizens who will benefit from the Reauthorization of the Housing, Jobs, and Sustainable Communities Act.

Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. signed it into law today. It allocates $120 million to improving housing for Cherokee citizens.

“Elders who need help, Cherokees with disabilities who are low income that needs some help with their home repairs, and then you get into affordable housing,” Chief Hoskin Jr. said.

Here's how the tribe plans to distribute the money. $60 million will go toward building new homes, $30 million for low-income home replacement and rehab for elders, $10 million toward crisis shelters for citizens or victims of domestic violence, and a total of $20 million for other projects, like expanding the speakers' village.

“They gave me my keys last week. Oh, there were tears again,” Bendabout said.

For her, this place is more than a new home, it means a new beginning. Just in the last two years, she lost two of her three children. One of them to COVID-19.

“But this changed everything and I’d like to set that aside and I don’t know…it just feels so good to be over here,” she said. “Oh, so comfortable to be in here.”

Chief Hoskin Jr. said the real work is not over.

Now, they will work on getting the dollars into construction and getting the homes built.

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