Eastern Shoshone Housing Authority breaks ground on first housing development in 37 years

(Fort Washakie, WY) – On July 13th, the Eastern Shoshone Housing Authority (ESHA) held a groundbreaking ceremony for the Medicine Water Road Project; a new housing development located on Shipton Lane.

These are the first homes to be built from start to finish under the ESHA and is the first new Eastern Shoshone housing development project in 37 years, according to Charles “Chuck” Washakie, ESHA executive director.

ESHA employees along with both current and past members of their board, Eastern Shoshone Business Council representative Mike Ute, and project engineer Jim Gores, among others, were in attendance at Tuesday’s ceremony to celebrate this next step in providing much-needed housing for Eastern Shoshone Tribal Members.

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County 10 Photo

The ESHA grant application process started in the fall of 2018 for the 2019 application deadline. After missing the first round of funding, they were eventually awarded $5M from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) through the Competitive Indian Housing Block Grant (IHBG).

These funds will help build a total of 24 homes which include two, three, and four-bedroom units; the entire project is expected to cost $6.4M, according to Washakie. A previously secured infrastructure grant of $900K will also be utilized on the project and must be used by September 30th.

The $5M grant must be used by 2025, however, Washakie wants to see this development completed by August 2022.

County 10 Photo – Chuck Washakie addresses ceremony attendees

This might also be the last low-income housing development by the ESHA. He hopes to shift to homeownership and is working with the Wind River Development Fund to help make this goal attainable.

The first like this housing development is already in line to begin in the spring of 2022, the currently named Trout Creek East Project. A $5.6M grant has already been secured for this development.

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ESHA board members in attendance at the ceremony all shared their excitement that these housing projects are getting off the ground.

County 10 Photo – ESHA Board Chair Kathryn Ferris Lonefight

Board Chair Kathryn Ferris Lonefight, a retired educator, expressed the ever-growing need for more housing throughout the years; noting it is not uncommon for multiple families to live in one home.

Community involvement was also encouraged to keep the momentum going on these projects and future ones.

It was noted during the ceremony, that over 50 students submitted names for the project and the roads within the development. The community then selected their favorites.

The project name is Nahtzoon’Bah Poi which translates to Medicine Water Road. The street name is Ainga Wetaiga which translates to Red Paint Drive. The circle names are Yiika Tahzee yumb and Da’Tahzee yumb which translate to Evening Star Circle and Morning Star Circle.

They plan to do the same for the Trout Creek East Project as well.

Washakie reiterated that this is a team effort by saying, “it’s not only me, it’s my staff behind me.”

County 10 Photo – ESHA Board Member Renee Enos-Reed

Mike Ute also spoke during the ceremony and shared he is “proud of what is happening today” and thanked Washakie for “leading the way.” Like others, he also encouraged the community to get involved and share their ideas.

County 10 Photo – Eastern Shoshone Business Council representative Mike Ute

ESHA Board Vice-Chair Mazie Goggles said: “I feel very honored. It has been a long time coming – 37 years since we built any houses. This is just the beginning.”

She also noted that she would like to see expanded housing options to accommodate single people as well.

County 10 Photo – ESHA Board Vice-Chair Mazie Goggles

It was also shared during the ceremony that an estimated 550 homes are needed by 2025 for Eastern Shoshone Tribal Members. This study was done by the National American Indian Housing Council, according to Jacob Hill, ESHA maintenance director and project manager.

ESHA Deputy Executive Director Hope White noted that applications for housing are open for any enrolled member.

County 10 Photo – ESHA Deputy Executive Director Hope White

She also shared her excitement to be part of this entire process noting there are a lot of moving parts to get a housing development off the ground.

The entire groundbreaking ceremony can be watched here.

County 10 Photo – Everyone in attendance who is part of the project was invited to sign the shovel

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