$7 million in grants to fund indigenous village construction in Alaska

Some parts of Alaska's coastline have never been surveyed. (iStock)
Fourteen grants were awarded to Alaskan tribal organizations. (iStock)
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development has announced $7 million in grants to 14 Alaska tribal organizations, much of it for housing.

Many of the grants will fund village construction, from Chignik Lagoon to Chistochina. But HUD also selected one Anchorage grantee. Cook Inlet Tribal Council and Cook Inlet Housing Authority are due to receive $600,000 to rehabilitate a commercial building in Midtown. Sezy Gerow-Hanson, a spokeswoman for the Housing Authority, said the plan is to add 20 apartments to the second floor of 3400 Spenard Road. But she said the HUD grant is just the first piece of a complicated funding package.

“The building is old and needs new mechanical systems,” Gerow-Hanson said. “There’s a lot of work that needs to be done and we’re not sure whether that’s going to pencil out to be the smartest use of the money.”

Gerow-Hanson said the demand for affordable housing in the area is high, and she says the project would help revitalize a section of the road her organization calls “Middle Spenard,” between Benson and Minnesota boulevards.

“There are a lot of mom-and-pop businesses along the roadway. We feel if you start to add that housing component, it adds to the neighborhood, it adds to the vibrancy,” Gerow-Hanson said.

All 14 Alaska grants were awarded competitively. The $7 million total is a slight dip from prior years and comes on top of the roughly $95 million in Indian Housing Block Grants that’s distributed annually in Alaska.

Related stories from around the North:

Canada: Canadian government invests over $35M to preserve Indigenous languages in the North, Radio Canada International

Finland: Finland looks to put education, environment at top of Arctic agenda, Yle News

Norway: PHOTO REPORT: Tundra children return from school, The Independent Barents Observer

Sweden: Activists say use of Finnish in Sweden is being restricted, Yle News

Russia: Population growth in military towns of Kola Peninsula, Russia, The Independent Barents Observer

United States: ‘Every year it’s harder’: Hiring teachers gets increasingly difficult in rural AlaskaLow enrollment forces 2 more school closures in Alaska, Alaska Dispatch News

Liz Ruskin, Alaska Public Media

For more news from Alaska visit Alaska Public Media.

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