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A Center, A Shelter June 13, 2024
June 13, 2024 A Center, A Shelter Grant to build safety and community for tribal elders

In the Cherokee language, “Gadugi” describes one of the tribe’s most important values — working together for the betterment of the community.

Through the inaugural offering of the Native American Housing Initiatives (NAHI) Grants Program, the Cherokee Nation did just that. In partnership with Chickasaw Community Bank, they secured a $500,000 grant from FHLBank Topeka to help build a community center for tribal elders.

The community center is a critical need for elders living in rental housing managed by the Housing Authority of the Cherokee Nation. Along with offering a gathering place for residents, the center will also include a storm shelter. As it is now, the closest shelter is several miles away from the housing complex.

Plus, traditional in-ground shelters aren’t suitable for residents with mobility issues. This shelter will be above ground to serve all residents, and the gathering place will offer hands-on activities to build a sense of community.

When the Housing Authority of the Cherokee Nation first began planning for the community center, they received a grant from another source to cover what they expected would be the full construction costs. With skyrocketing prices in recent years, the expected development budget doubled. The $500,000 NAHI grant means the center can now be a reality.

FHLBank Topeka’s NAHI Grants Program supports Native American tribes or tribally designated housing entities which then partners with an FHLBank member on the grant application. Chickasaw Community Bank was quick to offer their assistance on the Cherokee Nation’s application.

Since they were founded in 2002, Chickasaw Community Bank has endeavored to meet the needs of Native Americans across the country. Partnering on this grant opportunity close to home made perfect sense.

“We knew right away we wanted to be involved with this program,” said Director of Tribal & Construction Lending Nancy Bainbridge. “FHLBank Topeka’s NAHI program is unusual in its flexibility. It provides funding tribes can use for items that don’t fit into other grant programs or even lending offerings.”

FHLBank structured the program this way in direct response to feedback from stakeholders during last year’s FHLBanks at 100 Review by the Federal Housing Finance Agency.

“We made the NAHI process easier by design in response to what we heard in the Native American-focused roundtable,” said FHLBank Topeka’s Community Investment Officer Kylie Mergen. “We are pleased that our purpose-driven culture aligns with that of our member, Chickasaw Community Bank, and the Housing Authority of the Cherokee Nation.”

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