Oregon's Native American Youth & Family Center nets federal designation
The Native American Youth & Family Center, known as NAYA, will become Oregon's first EnVision Center, the nonprofit announced at a Tuesday morning virtual press conference.
NAYA is the 49th EnVision Center to open in the country but only the third to specifically serve native communities and the second in the Northwest, according to a press release. The designation will help NAYA connect to federal resources.
The EnVision Center initiative, launched by Department of Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson, helps community organizations by coordinating federal support so that families that receive HUD assistance can become "self-sufficient," according to a 2018 HUD press release announcing the program.
Heidi Frechette, HUD Deputy Assistant Secretary for Native American Programs, said, "As we know, in Indian country, regardless of whether you live in your home community or in an urban environment, having the ability to come together with one another's native families provides that spiritual and cultural connection that's so important to our communities and our children."
NAYA Executive Director Paul Lumley said the organization applied to become an EnVision in April after being approached by HUD about applying and visiting the center in Spokane, Washington. "I was impressed with the focus and attention from the federal agencies," Lumley said.
"Our commitment is to make easier connections on areas that NAYA is looking to grow and expand partnerships with the federal government for those people that they serve," said HUD Regional Administrator Jeffrey McMorris.
NAYA identified six areas of focus, Lumley said: affordable housing, food insecurity, education and afterschool programs, Native sports, business development and NAYA campus improvements.
"It's an opportunity to work collaboratively with the federal agencies through HUDs coordination and also with non-federal entities to bring new resources to the issues we identified," Lumley said.
Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler thanked NAYA for its work on affordable housing for Native communities in Portland, saying, "More than ever, our community stabilization work relies on really strong partnerships with mission driven community organizations, and I continue to deeply value the long standing relationship that the city of Portland has enjoyed with NAYA."
Wheeler and Frechette pointed to the Nesika Illahee, an affordable housing complex NAYA helped launch in January, as an example of the organization's success in housing instability. NAYA, Native American Rehabilitation Association of the Northwest, Community Development Partners and the Confederated Tribes of Siletz opened the Nesika Illahee in the Cully neighborhood in Northeast Portland, with funding from a HUD Indian Housing Block Grant.
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