Shuman Addresses Homelessness Problem at Membership Meeting
By Joe Morey
LCO Secretary-Treasurer Tweed Shuman addressed the homelessness problem at Lac Courte Oreilles during his financial report at the General Membership Meeting held on Sept. 24 at the Sevenwinds Casino Convention Center.
“We have a huge housing shortage,” Shuman said. “There is a lot of homelessness. It’s a huge problem and we as leaders deal with it every day. We want to be able to sustain this.”
Shuman stated the Tribe currently spends $900,000 annually on the homeless problem, but that is in addition to $1M that was used to pay for the hotel vouchers in Hayward which was part of an Indian Community Development Block Grant awarded to the Tribe on January 20 of this year. That amount could increase drastically over the coming year.
“We don’t want people living in their vehicles, or couch surfing as they call it,” Shuman said.
As of November, 2021, there were 205 people on the Housing Authority’s waiting list, according to the ARPA Report furnished to the Tribe in March of 2022. The report went on to say, “We know the housing shortage and homelessness is critical but the problem cannot be quantified because Reservation homelessness doesn't look like inner city homelessness. The Lac Courte Oreilles Housing Survey of 2018 found that the reservation homeless are "couch surfers" who frequently move from place to place by hitching rides.”
Shuman added, “We are using our shelters. This is what we have to contend with. We deal with this every day and winter is coming.”
He said as soon as the Tribe builds something like the shelters, they fill up.
“We’ve been renting 38 rooms weekly. We have 17 families living in 21 homes, cabins or trailers,” Shuman explained. “We’ve repurposed these homes. We have HIP homes, trespass homes, Covid homes that we’ve renovated. We put people in them. We even provide food.”
Shuman concluded his message on homelessness stating we have to find a way to pay for these people and ARPA ends in 2024, so we are looking now to have these folks pay for utilities and some kind of rent once they are there for 30 days.
Just last week the TGB approved a Rental Ordinance for the Covid Homes and other homes being used for homelessness whereby the occupants will be required to pay a rental amount after living in the homes for 30 days. The full article will appear in the next LCO News issue.