10/2/2012 9:56:00 AM Report on housing needs of Navajos with disabilities shows barriers Native American Disability Law Center releases report
FARMINGTON, N.M. - Navajos with disabilities face significant challenges finding adequate and accessible housing on their reservation, according to a comprehensive report released recently by the Native American Disability Law Center (the Law Center). The Navajo population faces a severe shortage of adequate housing in general. However, people with disabilities face many additional challenges and have a greater need for access to appropriate and accessible housing.
Approximately 15 percent of Navajo Nation residents report having a disability and 91 percent of those have low incomes. Over the last seven years, the Native American Disability Law Center been working to identify and address barriers to housing for families that include people with disabilities. In that time, the Law Center conducted numerous surveys and focus groups and reported the results of those efforts in a recently released document entitled The Center of All Relationships: Housing Needs of Navajos with Disabilities. One of the report's main findings is that the Navajo Housing Authority's complex policies and procedures are a formidable barrier for people with disabilities who seek housing on the Navajo Nation.
The report recommends that the Navajo Housing Authority (NHA) simplify its policies and procedures and provide assistance to people with disabilities who apply for housing, helping them to navigate the application process. It further states that the NHA should prioritize their housing applications over those of people who do not have disabilities. According to the report's results, NHA staff needs a better understanding of the barriers that those with disabilities face, and why accessible housing is crucial to their success in life. The report recommends that the NHA provide education and training to their staff on the housing needs of people with disabilities to increase their compassion for this underserved segment of the Navajo population. In addition, outreach and education is needed to help people with disabilities, their family members and service providers to understand the housing application process and their rights throughout the process.
The Center of All Relationships: Housing Needs of Navajos with Disabilities is available on the Law Center's website, http://www.nativedisabilitylaw.org/resources/11-resources-and-publications. Hard copies can be obtained by calling the Law Center at 1-800-862-7271. For more information on the housing needs of Navajos with disabilities or the services of the Native American Disability Law Center, contact Therese Yanan at (505) 215-3653.