Starting Aug. 2, Oklahoma school districts will be allowed to transfer surplus land to tribal housing authorities.
So far, those transactions could only happen with local governments or a state university.
"There are some school districts that had come to us over the years saying, 'We have surplus land, and the highest and best use of that would be affordable housing in our area,' and this just breaks down a barrier to accomplishing that," said Cherokee Nation Secretary of State Chuck Hoskin Jr.
The Housing Authority of the Cherokee Nation has built almost 700 homes and has around 100 under construction right now, and being able to receive land donations will probably lead to more.
"Typically, the price is around $350 a month. That includes insurance," Hoskin said. "So, this is very much a program that puts housing in reach of our citizens but also puts our people to work who are in the building trades."
That can mean more jobs to boost local tax bases, and there’s a benefit for districts, too.
"The land is held by the housing authority, and the school district, in turn, harnesses thousands of dollars per student to go to the public schools in the form of federal impact aid," Hoskin said.
Districts receive $2,800 a year for each tribal student living in a Cherokee Nation–built home.