Fresno and Madera County tribes get housing help for COVID relief. Here are their plans

JOHN WALKER/jwalker@fresnobee.com
·2 min read

Over $2 million in federal housing grants is being awarded to two American Indian tribes in the foothills above the central San Joaquin Valley to help alleviate COVID-19 impacts.

The money will help Mono tribal members at rancherias in eastern Fresno and Madera counties. Big Sandy Rancheria in Auberry, and the North Fork Rancheria of Mono Indians in North Fork, are each being awarded an Indian Community Development Block Grant via the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development totaling a little over $1 million.

It’s part of the American Rescue Plan that President Joe Biden signed in 2021, which promised $750 million in HUD dollars to help American Indian tribes during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The federal agency administering the grants announced Tuesday evening that Big Sandy Rancheria will use their new $1,027,890 grant to purchase land that includes three buildings with 14,300 square feet of space that will provide medical services to families impacted by COVID-19. HUD said North Fork Rancheria will use their $1,035,000 grant to acquire three homes that will help alleviate the housing shortage.

HUD said these grants to tribes are meant to “help protect the health and safety of their communities, particularly low- and moderate-income individuals and families, by expanding access to safe housing, a suitable living environment, and economic opportunities.”

Nearly $12 million was awarded to 11 Native American tribes in California – $83 million to 74 tribes in all across the country – under this third round of grant funding.

The news follows $74 million in these grants being awarded in November, and $52 million in December.

The American Rescue Plan promises $280 million in these grants. That leaves $71 million still to be awarded. HUD said future awards will be announced on a rolling basis.

That’s in addition to $450 million in different HUD grants, Indian Housing Block Grants, that were awarded last year.

American Indians have been disproportionately impacted by COVID-19. One study published last year found that Native Americans were dying from the virus at substantially higher rates than other groups before vaccines became widely available.

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