The housing situation for Indians is getting worse, the General Accounting Office says.
In a recent study, GAO said the number of Indian families living in substandard dwellings has increased from 63,000 in June 1970 to 86,500 in June 1976. At the same time the number of new standard units under construction dropped from 5,000 to 3,500.
In the six-year period, the number of Indian families on reservations increased by nearly 46,000 to 141,147. Only half the needed standard housing units were built, with the result that more Indians than ever are living in inferior housing under government care, GAO said.
Three federal agencies concerned with Indian housing are the Department of Housing and Urban Development, the Bureau of Indian Affairs and the Farmers Home Administration. The GAO found existing federal programs are not successful because they are "underfunded, have not received enough emphasis, require too many complex and time-consuming procedures, lack flexibility, require more trained people, and are uncoordinated."
HUD's approach, for example, was judged "slow and cumbersome. (It) does not particularly meet Indian needs (because) its program requirements were designed for urban metropolitan areas." Indian authorities were found to have a number of problems, primarily lack of funding and staffing to ensure collection or rents and maintenance, GAO said.
The GAO concluded that the present goal of eliminating substandard housing on Indian reservations in the 1970s cannot be achieved. It recommended that Congress redefine the national policy for Indian housing and establish a program with realistic goals and objectives. It said such a program should be centrally administered by a single agency.