HOULTON, Maine — The Houlton Band of Maliseets and the Aroostook Band of Micmacs will receive a combined $1.8 million grant from the federal government, through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Indian Community Development Block Grant program.
The ICDBG is available to more than 516 federally recognized Native American tribes throughout the United States which have their own housing authorities. HUD recently switched from giving out the grant every year to every two years, making it a highly competitive grant that tribes throughout the country seek. Only a small percentage receive funding through the program.
Rosa McNally, the grant writer and project manager for the Houlton Band of Maliseets, said that the funding received by the tribe through the grant — totaling $900,000 — will be used to renovate and expand upon the tribe’s community center.
“When we do construction projects like this, it has a good economic impact on the area,” said McNally. “A lot of the projects we’ve done, we’ve gotten local contractors and subcontractors, so it keeps up with job sustainability.”
In addition, the tribe is also seeking a $50,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Development program to provide a commercial kitchen for the center.
The Aroostook Band of Micmacs plans to use its half of the ICDBG funding to improve their low and moderate income housing. The tribe had obtained the housing units a few years after the closure of the Loring Air Force Base in 1998, but the condition of the units had already deteriorated. Funding for the units prior to receiving this grant had been scarce.
“It’s a big deal for us, psychologically, when you go into the neighborhood and now the majority of homes are up to code and they look nice,” said Craig Sanborn, the housing director for the Micmac tribe. “There’s a pride of ownership that just ups the spirit of the whole community.”
Improvements will include new roofing, siding, insulation as well as energy efficient windows and doors.
“The coronavirus is taking an unprecedented toll on communities across the country. This investment will help ensure that the Aroostook Band of Micmacs and the Houlton Band of Maliseet Indians can continue to provide affordable housing and other important services on their lands during this difficult time,” U.S. Sen. Susan Collins said in a prepared statement.