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Morgan Winsor
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Doug Coltrin
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Wyatt Buchanan
Corless: Weiser Indians last to submit to 'rez' life
Crystl Murray
Boise Valley title was never extinguished
Homes being built,
but a housing shortage still exists on the rez

By Morgan Winsor

FORT HALL ó Several families living on the Shoshone-Bannock reservation have been on a waiting list for more than a decade to move into their own home.
Until their name moves to the top of the list they either stay with friends, move in with relatives or rent apartments.
A housing shortage exists on the Fort Hall Reservation because tribal members have a difficult time obtaining mortgages from banks because the land is held in trust by the federal government, said Blaine Edmo, Fort Hall Business Council chairman.
Approximately 150 tribal families are registered on the list, but each year only a handful moves into homes.
Lonnie Racehorse, development project director for the Fort Hall Housing Authority, said houses are issued to families based on a 100-point system.
"The people are first put into categories by their qualifications," Racehorse said.
The point system decides the category of the family. For example, families with a high number of dependents usually receive more points than families with fewer dependents, Racehorse said. "A family gets about five points per dependent."
Age also factors into the point system. A criminal background can weigh against the family.
"Part of our policy is to do criminal background checks," Racehorse said. "A lot of people with crime records are not granted a house."
He said the biggest reason for being denied is a driving while intoxicated record. Once a family qualifies for housing, Racehorse works with the Land Use Committee to scout potential building sites. He said most tribal families choose to live in rural areas away from the population.

A house that was recently built for a family
on the Fort Hall Indian Reservation.

"Thereís a lot of space, so people have an option to live in privacy," he said.
Once land is chosen, Racehorse shows the family four different floor layouts to choose from. After choosing a model, construction begins. And four months later, voila, a home is constructed.
The land is locked in trust, which means it belongs to the tribe, so a family does not own the land itself. But they are granted a 25-year lease to the property with an option to renew. Mortgage on the home and property is based on the familyís gross income. A family usually is billed 15 percent of its total income.
Although Racehorse finds joy in helping families, he said the job has its faults.
"The toughest part of the job is waiting for leases to be approved and searching for housing sites," he said.
Racehorse, former executive director for the housing authority, has been at his new job nearly two years. And so far he has helped construct 18 homes.
"And we have another 10 being constructed right now," he said.

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