The National American Indian Housing Council is questioning the Department of Housing and Urban Development's budget for fiscal 2000, noting that none of the $2.5 billion increase the agency has proposed is earmarked for Native American housing.

HUD's budget proposal asks for a 10% increase. At present, 547 Indian tribes receive $620 million in funding through a HUD block grant program, the housing advocacy group said.

The group estimated that Native Americans need at least $850 million in HUD funding to meet their present housing needs. Proposed welfare reform measures would increase the need by $122 million, the group estimated.

In testimony before the Senate Indian Affairs Committee, Christopher D. Boesen, executive director of the housing advocacy group, asked why HUD Secretary Andrew Cuomo has not put additional resources into an initiative he said he supports.

"Because it is a transition year, we felt the appropriate level of funding was the $620 million," said a spokesman for HUD. "Once we have implemented the Native American Housing and Self-Determination Act, we look forward to advocating for increases in Native American programs and housing assistance for Native Americans."

The advocacy group also noted that Native American leaders are concerned that HUD has failed to develop a formal consultation committee, which is called for in 1996 legislation under the Native American Housing and Self- Determination Act.

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