Sept. 22, 2004 – A new report by the National American Indian Housing Council (NAIHC) highlights that substandard housing contributes to many health, social and family problems in native communities.
The Council released the report on the eve of the opening of the National Museum of the American Indian in Washington DC. "The opening of the museum is a cause to celebrate -- but it is also a reminder that there are issues such as health and housing that continue to plague Indian people," said Chester Carl, who chairs the NAIHC.
"Very few places in our nation have children hurting as much as on our Indian reservations," he continued. "It is up to the federal government to uphold the trust responsibility -- an obligation it has made to tribes through treaties and laws -- and make good on promises ratified centuries ago. We, as Native people, will also continue to work together to make a better life for our children."
The study, which surveyed 246 NAIHC housing authority members, found that 59 percent of respondents reported overcrowding on their reservations and 83 percent described a lack of clean water and proper sewage treatment, inadequate insulation and mold. Of those respondents, 94 percent linked the conditions to residentsâ€™ health problems, like an increase in colds, skin disorders and flu.
The studyâ€™s results echo a report published last year by the US Commission on Civil Rights, which estimated that almost 15 percent of Native American homes are overcrowded and that 90,000 Native Americans are either homeless or lack sufficient housing. The Commission estimated that 200,000 new homes are required to end the crisis.