Tribal housing in Alaska will benefit from more than $1 million in grants announced Monday through the federal Housing and Urban Development program to address mold.
Colleen Bickford is the HUD field office director for Alaska. She says $1.6 million was awarded to three tribal entities in the state specifically for mold remediation or prevention in more than 200 tribal homes through improved windows, doors and exteriors.
“But also through this work, insuring that the interior is also adequately ventilated to insure good air quality indoors and that’s where preventing moisture build up which leads to the growth of mold, which is unhealthy so this is kind of a new preventative investment in rural communities.”
In the past HUD had a cookie cutter approach to housing, it built similar structures across the nation regardless of local conditions. But Bickford says that’s changed as HUD realized local entities better understand their own geographic challenges. In Alaska, that has led to more flexibility to incorporate traditional building methods with new cold climate housing science for improved structures.
“Working with the private sector to design housing that fits their geography and their climate and things like that, so we really are not in the driver’s seat anymore with Indian Housing funding.”
Homes with mold problems will be targeted first through assessment by the tribal housing authorities. $800,000 will go to the Cook Inlet Tribal Council, $200,000 to the Yakutat Tlingit tribe and $553,000 to the Craig Tribal Association.
“In the case of Yakutak, they’ve identified 30 beneficiary households that they’re going to target for education and mold remediation programs and that sort of thing.”
Bickford says the other awardees will undertake a similar prioritizing and assessment of housing conditions. Nationally $12.4 million will go to tribal housing authorities to combat poor ventilation and moisture that leads to mold problems.