Secure homes ensure a safe living and working environment for Cherokee people

Housing improvements and investments keep youth and elders protected

Cherokee Nation’s priority to improve and expand housing options made a difference in the lives of hundreds of Cherokee families over the past year. Whether helping them become new homeowners or helping our elders with new roofs or heating and air conditioning assistance, Cherokee Nation strived to assist with emergency housing needs. New programs were for those citizens not eligible for other programs in order to ensure shelter-at-home protocols. Cherokee Nation built efficient homes for elders across the reservation and equipped three vehicles to be strategically placed throughout the Cherokee Nation to respond to housing emergencies. The tribe’s COVID response has been the best in Oklahoma and across Indian Country.

The Cherokee Nation dedicated $7 million for affordable and efficient housing for elders and Cherokee speakers during the pandemic, and served thousands of citizens through rental and housing payment relief.

Forty-two replacement homes are under construction for Cherokee elders whose current home’s leaky roofs, plumbing or electrical issues would cost more to repair than have a new home built.

The 42 homes are being placed throughout the tribe’s reservation.

“It’s extremely important that we help our elders, who are already struggling in this pandemic, with safe and sanitary housing so we can remove one less barrier and offer that relief,” Housing Authority of the Cherokee Nation Interim Director Jerri Ann Killer.

Five efficiency style homes in Tahlequah will also house Cherokee speakers, keeping them safe in a close community and helping to connect them to younger Cherokee language learners at the nearby Durbin Feeling Language Center.

“As a tribe, we are in exciting and unprecedented times for language revitalization,” said Cherokee Nation Language Department Executive Director Howard Paden. “The Durbin Feeling Language Center and the nearby language village are vital parts of this ongoing effort that will mark the significance of this moment and this era when we help to preserve the heart of our Nation. We are humbled to be involved in this endeavor. For these reasons, I could not be prouder of my Nation.”

The five new homes for Cherokee speakers, include two one-bed units and three two-bed units. During the pandemic, more than 35 Cherokee Speakers were lost to COVID-19.

“This language center and the nearby housing village will be a huge advantage to speakers in our community,” Deputy Chief Bryan Warner said. “We’ll have one centralized location for speakers, and that will help preserve our precious language by connecting speakers with students. It will be a joy to watch the Cherokee language grow through these efforts.” taking place at the language center and the nearby housing community for Cherokee speakers.”

The tribe also invested in mental health and domestic violence shelters through the pandemic and helped thousands of Cherokee citizens by paying up to six months of their housing and rental payments in the past year.