Nearly $6 million in federal grants have been approved for five Washington tribes to pay for programs to combat the spread of the novel coronavirus and give financial help to tribal members for rent and utility bills.
The federal COVID-19 response grants are intended to assist in the many ways tribes are combatting the virus, from building tiny houses for quarantine, to building more housing to fight overcrowding and providing financial relief for tribal members strapped by the economic dropoff.
The money is being distributed under the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to five tribes: the Lummi Nation Housing Authority; the Muckleshoot Housing Authority, the Nisqually Indian Tribe, the Squaxin Island Tribe and Tulalip Tribes.
The Tulalip will receive the most, with $1.5 million to provide rental and utility assistance for families financially hurt by the COVID crisis.
The Lummi Nation Housing Authority is receiving almost as much, $1,494,909 to build 14 new housing units on the reservation, where many young families face a housing shortage and overcrowding adds to the risk of the spread of the highly contagious disease.
The Nisqually Indian Tribe is constructing a $900,000 emergency response center and buying a modular unit to be used as a domestic violence prevention center.
The Squaxin Tribe is building 15 tiny homes, to provide temporary housing for families in which to quarantine. The tribe will also use the money for utility assistance for families on financial hard times because of the virus.
Finally, the Muckleshoot Housing Authority will spend $899,578 to build three new homes, also to alleviate crowding in tribal housing on the reservation.
The grant program is available for community development projects for Indian tribes and Alaska Native villages.
U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Washington, who serves on the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, announced the grants Friday.