The Navajo Nation will receive more than $34 million for housing from the economic recovery package, according to Rep. Ben Ray Luján's office.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development will give the Nation $34.4 million — more than any other tribe in northern New Mexico.

The funding comes from the almost $790 billion American Recovery and Reinvestment Act signed into law by President Barack Obama last week.

The $38 million total for tribes in Luján's 3rd Congressional District would go toward new home construction, housing rehabilitation and housing-related infrastructure, according to the housing department.

"This funding will help families and create and save jobs through a wide range of projects that can begin soon," Luján said in a prepared statement. "These projects will help communities in tribal lands get back on track during this difficult economic time."

Luján worked with tribal officials to determine which kind of projects required funding, said Luján spokesman Mark Nicastre. Other lawmakers contributed.

"We're going to work with the state agencies and local officials as much as we can to make sure (projects are) implemented quickly and effectively," Nicastre said.

The economic recovery package will bring more money to San Juan County, but Nicastre didn't have details on which projects could receive funding.

Priority for funding will be given to housing projects for which contracts can be awarded within about six months, according to the housing department.


The funding could fill gaps in the Nation's housing budget, which has seen cuts, said Audie Greybear, spokesman for the Nation's Division of Community Development.

A portion of the $34 million could fund new homes on the Nation.

The Nation built 44 homes from 2007 to 2008 and it plans to build 16 more for residents as part of its 2008 budget. Navajo officials are deciding this week how many more homes will be built, he said.

Tribes must spend half of the funding within two years and all within three years, according to the housing department.

Outside the Nation, Farmington got about $117,000 for affordable housing, according to Luján's office. Projects for which a contract can be awarded within about four months will get priority.

"Just one week after President Obama signed the American Recovery and Reinvestment

Act into law, communities are already beginning to see the benefits," Luján also said in a prepared statement.

Steve Lynn: