A new study commissioned by the Baranof Island Housing Authority (BIHA), with the support of the Sitka Tribe of Alaska (STA), reveals that tribal citizens in Sitka are increasingly unable to afford housing and are leaving the city at a higher rate than other residents. The findings come from surveys of over 300 Alaska Native or Indigenous households within Sitka, and nearly 200 households of Sitka Tribe of Alaska tribal citizens living outside the area. The data highlights that Native residents are more likely to rent, live in older or mobile homes, and rely on family or friends for accommodation.

Cliff Richter, the Executive Director of BIHA, acknowledged that the previous tribal housing assessment was five years old and the data had become outdated. The survey results have prompted BIHA to adjust their housing strategies, focusing now on higher-density housing and smaller lots in the planning of a new subdivision on Herb Didrickson Drive. Other strategies under consideration include weatherizing homes and replacing mobile homes to improve living conditions.

The issue of housing affordability affects the broader community, and BIHA along with STA and the City and Borough of Sitka, aim to address it collectively. A community meeting is scheduled to take place tonight at 6 p.m. at the Sheet’ká Kwáan Naa Kahídi, where the authorities will present potential strategies for expanding affordable housing in Sitka and seek further input from the community.

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