Home for veterans on the Navajo Reservation
April 1, 2014 Professional Journal


Navajo Nation Veterans Affairs Office reports to Budget and Finance Committee on the construction status of 15 homes per agency for veterans on April 1, 2014. (L-R) Unknown, VA Director David Nez and VA assistant Tim Goodluck. Photo by Marley Shebala

Navajo Nation Veterans Affairs Office reports to Budget and Finance Committee on the construction status of 15 homes per agency for veterans on April 1, 2014. (L-R) Unknown, VA Director David Nez and VA assistant Tim Goodluck. Photo by Marley Shebala

DSC_0002Here at Navajo Council Budget and Finance Committee meeting, where the first order of business – after invocation by B&F member Delegate Nelson BeGaye, recognition of guests and announcements – was for the Committee to delete the two reports from President Ben Shelly regarding the Decentralization of the Navajo government and Feral Horses Roundups.

The Committee said that those two reports would be written and so I’ll be waiting for my copy of those two reports.

The Committee also removed the “financial status of the Emergency Drought Response” by Navajo Water Department Technical, Construction and Operations Branch Manager Najam Tariq and a report from the Navajo Office of the Controller and Office of Management and Budgets on revisions to the tribal Budget Instruction and Policy Manual.

The Committee is now listening to a status report from the tribal Veterans Affairs Office Director David Nez and his assistant, former Navajo Council Delegate Tim Goodluck, on the construction of 15 homes for veterans.

B&F Committee member Delegate NELSON BEGAYE
one of things I wanted to hear from report, which I requested, was to hear if any issues or problems so these issues are not presented at the last minute. You mentioned that for Western Agency that you are in the interview stage but in your report, $2.9 million or 43 percent has been spent for Fort Defiane. Chinle has lot of homes going up and 43 percent spent. And you are also behind schedule.

Is this construction of homes for veterans bidded out? Are there any opportunities in Western Agency for chapters to submit proposal for less expensive costs for construction of homes? What is the cost for construction of each home?

What also bothers me is that once these homes built that veteran shud move in but there are issues with utility lines and water lines and stoves. You mentioned that it wud be up to veteran to buy appliance and I don’t want that to delay the veteran moving in. Red Tape also consumes a lot of time but you are all on fast track. We had ground breaking for Mormom Church last week and the building is already going up with grand opening Sunday. But yet, when we go thru tribal process, it takes forever for homes to be constructed.

I know that this first year will be a test for this project.

I looked at B&F agenda and I said that I want to hear success story and I think that this is one of them.

It took about six months for me to become knowledgeable about construction. And there is also some delays with the delivery of housing materials from Home Depot. And since Home Depot is making deliveries in phases, the housing materials are protected. And each of the housing materials are filed under the names of each of the veterans receiving a home. The question by B&F Committee member Delegate Danny Simpson regarding rain gutters: We forgot about including rain gutters. We are also having problems with the hiring of workers through the Navajo Department of Personnel, where the Council’s recent amendments to the personnel policy have created unforeseen problems in hiring workers as soon as possible. We have construction workers applying that are experienced but they lack degrees, which is a requirement of the new amendments.

I’d like VA to invite other resources to the table, such as Wells Fargo Bank, to leverage these funds. Right now you have pot of money and once zeroed out, that’s it. But if you find some partners then you could double 15 homes. When it comes to stretching your dollars, you do need to find resources.

Issue of waiving 5 percent tribal business tax for Home Depot wud need to be done by B&F. (B&F Committee member Danny Simpson said that HOme Depot had offered to also cover appliances for the homes for the veterans if the tribe waived the 5 percent tribal business tax.) Are homes handicapped accessable?

The veterans indicate if need handicap accessible home. Home Depot also provides wider doors. And the building of foundation and stem wall could be built closer to the ground so there is no need for wheelchair ramp. We also are looking at working with Navajo Tribal Utility Authority and the Indian Health Services for utility lines, water lines and sewage. And we are keeping track of the overall budget for the construction of the veterans homes.

Perhaps the VA shud also construct these homes near existing utility and water lines.

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