Three-bedroom FEMA mobile homes will be made available to area American Indian tribes and other tribes in the Great Plains region when the homes are no longer needed. Currently, the homes are being used by people displaced by last year's Souris River flood and most of the homes are in Minot.
Senators John Hoeven and Kent Conrad, Rep. Rick Berg and Gov. Jack Dalrymple announced Wednesday that the Department of Housing and Urban Development and Bureau of Indian Affairs agreed to their request to make the FEMA homes available to the tribes.
"We are pleased our delegation kept pushing for these trailers as the Bakken oil boom has created an even more severe housing shortage on Fort Berthold," said Tex Hall, chairman of the Three Affiliated Tribes on the Fort Berthold Reservation.
Eloise Ogden/MDN • Up to 600 FEMA homes for people displaced by last June’s Souris River flood initially were in the Virgil Workman Village, east of Minot, shown here Wednesday. North Dakota’s congressional delegation and Gov. Jack Dalrymple announced this week that the three-bedroom units, like many of the mobile homes at this site in Minot, will be made available to area Indian tribes and other tribes in the Great Plains region when the homes are no longer needed in the Minot area.
"Recently the Prairie Winds Trailer Court tenants (in New Town) were displaced due to the oil development so our tribal housing and tribal staff and council are looking at relocating these tenants, so these trailers would be most welcome," Hall said.
Wally Kowitz, chief finance officer for Fort Berthold Housing Authority in New Town, also said there's a tremendous need for housing in western North Dakota and especially on Fort Berthold Reservation. He said they are looking forward to receiving the FEMA housing.
Pete Davis, executive director of Turtle Mountain Housing Authority at Belcourt, said they have about 112 families currently on a waiting list for housing.
Barb Pegg, executive director of Fort Berthold Housing Authority, told The Minot Daily News earlier that the housing authority on Fort Berthold has 300 on its waiting list for housing.
North Dakota's congressional delegation moved to secure the housing in a letter they sent in April to HUD Secretary Shaun Donavan and Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, according to a news release.
When Salazar visited Fort Berthold this spring, Dalrymple pressed Salazar for the FEMA mobile homes during a meeting in New Town April 3. The next day Dalrymple also sent a written request to President Obama.
According to the agreement between HUD and the Interior Department, the two agencies will evenly split all of the homes that become available following their use by people displaced by flooding last year, largely in Minot. The BIA has indicated it will allocate its units to the tribes in the Great Plains region, including North Dakota, South Dakota and Wyoming, the news release said.
FEMA has indicated there are currently 864 housing units in North Dakota. HUD notified the delegation that roughly half of the tribes requesting mobile homes are located in the northern climate zones and will be eligible to receive houses currently dispatched to Minot, the news release said.
The agency anticipates a number of tribes from other parts of the country will receive units, but the cost of transporting them over significant distances would be considerably higher than placing them locally.
Because the houses are designed for cold climates, they will be allocated to tribes in the northern climate zone of the country, the news release said. While housing will be made available to tribes outside of North Dakota, the agencies say the allocation method they've put in place will ensure that North Dakota tribes get mobile home units that have been located in the state.
"Like other residents of North Dakota, the tribes are feeling the impacts of rapid economic development, especially on the Fort Berthold and Turtle Mountain reservations in oil country," the delegation and governor said in a joint statement.
"These mobile homes are zoned for cold weather and they're already in the area, meaning they can be moved economically and efficiently. We expect our tribes to get a good share of the housing available, and will continue to push for that," the delegation and governor said.