“Our View: Improper spending imperils Lumbee housing work.” Fay Observer [Fayetteville, NC] July 30, 2014.
The average wait for home repairs by the Lumbee Tribe averages at nearly four years, and many of the near 1,000 families on the list will wait even longer for the needed repairs. Anita Blanks, who chairs the tribe's housing committee, tried to get the tribal council to enact an ordinance that would better prioritize repairs and speed up response to requests; however, her request was turned down because she didn't put her request through the correct committee.
Meanwhile, a federal audit found council members had run up $416,000 in unallowable expenses. The money will come out of federal housing fund grants, cutting the tribe’s housing funds by more than $208,000 over the next two fiscal years, and lengthening the wait for repairs.
The tribe has received more than $184 million in housing block grants since 2001, but still can't provide timely repairs to its poorest members. Housing program subsidies are based on income, but recipients can't have assets exceeding $15,000.
The tribe has campaigned for full federal recognition and the additional funding that it would include - money that could get repairs done promptly, since the 1950’s. Unfortunately, the continued financial misadventures by the tribe send a negative message to Congress and make full recognition even more elusive.