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Guest Opinion. know that the Cherokee Nation is a wonderful place to live. The people, culture and natural beauty of our 7,000-square-mile reservation in northeast Oklahoma make me proud to call it home. As more Cherokees choose to stay here or return from living in other places, our communities and economy will grow even stronger.

Still, we face a barrier to that hopeful future. Too many Cherokees struggle to find a safe home where they can raise a family or age in place. To meet this need, the Cherokee Nation has launched an unprecedented building and housing rehab boom.

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The newly reauthorized Housing, Jobs and Sustainable Communities Act makes a transformative $120 million investment in housing across our 14 counties. The scale of ongoing construction projects is impressive. We have already completed about 120 homes, and hundreds more are in development. Subdivisions of Cherokee homes are taking shape in Tahlequah (24 new homes), Collinsville (16), Stilwell (15), Muskogee (12), Sallisaw (12) and Jay (10). Over 80 homes are being built now, and another 72 lots are ready. With a total of 523,220 square feet of homes under construction, the scale and impact of the housing initiative are undeniable. We also currently have another 126 individuals with land across the Cherokee Nation Reservation that we are building new homes on.

The Council of the Cherokee Nation, Deputy Chief Bryan Warner and I are committed to providing safe and affordable homes for Cherokee families to thrive. We are bringing a special focus on housing for populations who need it most. In our capital city of Tahlequah, we have a joint effort with the Department of Defense to build homes for veterans facing housing insecurity. In Ochelata, located in Washington County, we are opening rental units for elders and for specialty health professionals needed for our health care growth. Stilwell is also home to several one-bedroom rental units designed specifically for elders.

We are proud of these new home building efforts, and another major part of the Housing, Jobs and Sustainable Communities Act is home rehabilitation. Through the Housing Authority of the Cherokee Nation (HACN), we have extensively rehabbed more than 500 homes for Cherokees and provided over 1,000 homes with emergency rehab, for things like roofing and flooring emergencies that could jeopardize safety.

The HACN has also acquired land for new subdivisions to be built in Grove, Muldrow and Marble City. The tribe is actively investing in small, rural communities where Cherokee culture thrives. We are creating safe environments for families so these precious communities can remain whole.

Cherokee Nation Chief Chuck Hoskin, Jr.

Every part of the Cherokee Nation should be a place where Cherokees can thrive. We are also exploring investing in home units in north Tulsa for Cherokees in this part of the reservation.

Besides providing excellent housing for families and elders, the Cherokee building boom creates quality jobs for hundreds of individuals and Cherokee-owned companies in the building and contracting industry. Cherokee Nation Career Services is doing its part to recruit, train and connect skilled workers with contractors on our numerous projects.

There is more work to be done on housing. In the coming months, Deputy Chief Warner, the Housing Authority and I will announce an effort to take a comprehensive look at housing needs across the reservation. We are proud of the progress we have made on housing, but we must be willing to recognize there is much more to do. Leadership on this vital subject requires nothing less.

Our housing efforts will benefit our nation for generations to come, by making sure Cherokees young and old continue to live side by side, supporting and learning from each other. I hope that all Cherokees, no matter where they might live in the world today, will feel confident that they can call the Cherokee Nation Reservation home.

Chuck Hoskin, Jr. is the principal chief of the Cherokee Nation.

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Author: Chuck Hoskin JrEmail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.