[Federal Register Volume 80, Number 1 (Friday, January 2, 2015)]
[Proposed Rules]
[Pages 13-21]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2014-30692]


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DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR

Bureau of Indian Affairs

25 CFR Part 256

[K00103 12/13 A3A10; 134D0102DR-DS5A300000-DR.5A311.IA000113; BIA-2014-
0004]
RIN 1076-AF22


Housing Improvement Program

ACTION: Proposed rule.

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SUMMARY: The Bureau of Indian Affairs is proposing to amend its 
regulations governing its Housing Improvement Program, which is a 
safety-net program that provides grants for repairing, renovating, or 
replacing existing housing and for providing new housing. This proposed 
rule is an important part of the Tiwahe initiative, which is designed 
to promote the stability and security of Indian families. The proposed 
rule would align the program with other Federal requirements, allow 
leveraging of housing funds to increase the number of families served 
and projects funded, and expedite processing of waiting lists for 
housing assistance.

DATES: Comments must be received on or before March 6, 2015. See the 
SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION section of this document for dates of tribal 
consultations. Comments on the information collections contained in 
this proposed regulation are separate from those on the substance of 
the rule. Comments on the information collection burden should be 
received by February 2, 2015 to ensure consideration, but must be 
received no later than March 6, 2015. The dates of tribal consultations 
are listed in the SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION section of this document.

ADDRESSES: You may submit comments by any of the following methods:

--Federal rulemaking portal: http://www.regulations.gov. The rule is 
listed under the agency name ``Bureau of Indian Affairs.'' The rule has 
been assigned Docket ID: BIA-2014-0004.
--Mail or hand delivery: Elizabeth K. Appel, Director, Office of 
Regulatory Affairs & Collaborative Action, Indian Affairs, U.S. 
Department of the Interior, 1849 C St. NW., Mail Stop 3642-MIB, 
Washington, DC 20240.

    Comments on the Paperwork Reduction Act information collections 
contained in this rule are separate from comments on the substance of 
the rule. Please submit comments on the information collection 
requirements in this rule to the Desk Officer for the Department of the 
Interior by email at [email protected] or by facsimile at 
(202) 395-5806. Please also send a copy of your comments to 
[email protected].
    Please see the SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION section of this document 
for information on tribal consultation sessions.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Mr. Les Jensen, Division of Housing 
Assistance, Bureau of Indian Affairs at (907) 586-7397. Individuals who 
use a telecommunications device for the deaf (TDD) may call the Federal 
Information Relay Service at 1 (800) 877-8339 between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. 
Monday through Friday, excluding Federal holidays. You may also view 
the information collection request as submitted to OMB at 
www.reginfo.gov.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: 

I. Background

    The Housing Improvement Program (HIP) is a safety-net program that 
provides grants for the cost of services to repair, renovate, or 
replace existing housing and provide new housing for eligible members 
of federally recognized Indian tribes. The BIA administers the HIP 
under the regulations at 25 CFR part 256. The BIA distributes HIP 
funding based on a priority ranking derived from a point system to 
identify those individuals and families most in need of housing 
assistance. Funding is restricted to individuals and families that 
reside in the tribe's service area. In Fical Year (FY) 2014, the HIP 
will serve approximately 140 recipients. These recipients are 
individuals and families with extremely low incomes.

II. Changes Proposed Rule Would Make

    This proposed rule would update various provisions to align the HIP 
with other Federal program requirements, allow leveraging of housing 
funds to increase the number of families served and projects funded, 
and provide tribes with flexibility to better address lengthy waiting 
lists of tribal members awaiting housing assistance.

Categories of Assistance and Funding Limits

    Currently, the HIP provides funding for four categories of housing 
needs:
     Category A--for repair of existing homes
     Category B--for renovation of existing homes
     Category C-1--for construction of replacement homes
     Category C-2--for new housing.
    For each category, there is a monetary limit on the amount of 
funding a recipient may receive. The proposed rule would increase the 
limit for Category A funding from $2,500 to $7,500 and increase the 
limit for Category B funding from $35,000 to $60,000. The original 
limits are inadequate, given the average costs of repair and 
renovation. These limit increases will better reflect the actual costs 
of repair and renovation. The proposed rule would also add a new 
category of housing need for down payment assistance.

Ranking Factors

    Currently, priority ranking is based on total numeric value 
(points) received under the ranking factors. The ranking factors are 
based on the applicant's annual household income, whether there is an 
aged person living in the house, whether there is a disabled

[[Page 14]]

person living in the house, and family size. There are a certain number 
of points available for each of the ranking factors. Each applicant 
receives a certain number of points under each of the ranking factors. 
The proposed rule would update the current ranking factors, as shown in 
the table below.

------------------------------------------------------------------------
       Ranking factor         Proposed rule change    Reason for change
------------------------------------------------------------------------
Annual Household Income.....  Increase the income   Those within 150
                               guidelines from 125   percent of the
                               percent to 150        poverty level would
                               percent of the        be eligible,
                               Federal Poverty       allowing the HIP to
                               Income Guidelines.    assist the very
                                                     needy, in addition
                                                     to the extremely
                                                     needy.
Age.........................  Increase the age      Align with the
                               requirement from 55   social security age
                               years old to 62       for retirement.
                               years old.
Age (continued).............  Add one point for     To provide tribes
                               every year above 62   with flexibility to
                               years old, and set    better address
                               a maximum of 15       lengthy waiting
                               points (currently,    lists of tribal
                               there is no           members awaiting
                               maximum).             housing assistance.
Disability..................  Reduce the number of  To provide tribes
                               applicants to one     with flexibility to
                               per household and     better address
                               decrease the          lengthy waiting
                               maximum number of     lists of tribal
                               points available      members awaiting
                               for this category     housing assistance.
                               to 10 points
                               (currently, the
                               maximum is 20
                               points).
Family Size.................  To provide that one   To provide tribes
                               dependent gets        with flexibility to
                               three points, and     better address
                               each additional       lengthy waiting
                               dependent gets 3      lists of tribal
                               points. Increase      members awaiting
                               points for 5 or       housing assistance.
                               more dependents to
                               a maximum of 15
                               points (currently,
                               the maximum for 6
                               or more dependents
                               is 5).
------------------------------------------------------------------------

    The proposed rule would add new ranking factors for homelessness, 
overcrowding, and dilapidated housing--each with a maximum of 10 
points. These additional ranking factors are intended to better 
prioritize applicants who are homeless or in overcrowded or dilapidated 
housing conditions, by specifically examining whether these factors are 
present.

Payback Agreements

    Under the HIP, the recipient may be required to enter a ``payback 
agreement'' which provides that the recipient will have to pay back the 
entire amount of funding received or a portion thereof if the recipient 
sells the home within a certain period of time. If the payback period 
expires, no payback is required and the money is considered a grant. 
Currently, for Category B, the payback period is 5 years. So, for 
example, a family that receives HIP funding for a home must repay the 
funding if the family sells the home within 5 years of receiving the 
funding. The proposed rule would lengthen the Category B payback period 
to 10 years. So, for example, a family that receives HIP funding for a 
home must repay the funding if the family sells the home within 10 
years. Category C payback period remains the same, 20 years.

Four-Year Application Period

    The proposed rule would also increase the time for consideration of 
an application to 4 years. Currently an application expires after one 
year, requiring an applicant who does not receive assistance under the 
HIP to reapply annually until assistance is received. The proposed rule 
would place each application in the application pool for four years, so 
an applicant need only apply once every 4 years until assistance is 
received.

Land Ownership Requirements

    HIP funding applicants must provide proof of land ownership before 
the grant award. The proposed rule would allow the applicant to provide 
proof of a homesite lease or proof that the applicant can obtain the 
land, even by lease, rather than requiring ownership. A certificate of 
title is required if and when the applicant becomes the owner of the 
home.

Square-Footage Limits

    The proposed rule would also increase square-footage limits to 
allow Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requirements to be met, 
when applicable, and clarify when ADA requirements apply. The following 
table shows the increases in square footage the proposed rule would 
make.

------------------------------------------------------------------------
  Number of bedrooms in      Current and proposed
          house              square footages (SF)       Total increase
------------------------------------------------------------------------
2 bedrooms...............  900 sf to 1,000 sf......  100 sf.
3 bedrooms...............  1,050 sf to 1,200 sf....  50 sf.
4 bedrooms...............  1,305 sf to 1,400 sf....  95 sf.
------------------------------------------------------------------------

Other Changes

    The proposed rule would also make other revisions to update the 
regulations to address past implementation issues and better reflect 
current housing needs. Together, these proposed rule changes would 
allow for HIP assistance to families with very low income (rather than 
just families with extremely low income) and allow tribes to better 
address the large waiting lists they are experiencing. The changes 
would allow down-payment assistance for families that can obtain a 
mortgage loan from other Federal programs.

III. Tribal Consultations

    The Department will be hosting consultation sessions with Indian 
tribes on this proposed rule; details on the times and locations will 
be posted at the following Web site when they become available: http://www.bia.gov/WhoWeAre/AS-IA/ORM/HIP/index.htm.
     Wednesday, February 4, 2015, at the National American 
Indian Housing Council legislative conference, at the Mayflower 
Renaissance Hotel, 1127 Connecticut Ave. NW., Washington, DC (please 
check Web site for time).
     Wednesday, February 11, 2015, in Anchorage, AK (please 
check Web site for details).
     Wednesday, February 18, 2015, by teleconference (please 
check Web site for details).
     Sunday, February 22, 2015, prior to the National Congress 
of American Indian Executive Council Winter Session, Capital Hilton, 
1001 16th Street NW., Washington, DC (please check Web site to confirm 
date and for time).

IV. Procedural Matters

A. Regulatory Planning and Review (E.O. 12866)

    Executive Order (E.O.) 12866 provides that the Office of 
Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) at the Office of Management 
and Budget (OMB) will review all significant rules. OIRA has determined 
that this rule is not significant. E.O. 13563 reaffirms the principles 
of E.O. 12866 while calling

[[Page 15]]

for improvements in the nation's regulatory system to promote 
predictability, to reduce uncertainty, and to use the best, most 
innovative, and least burdensome tools for achieving regulatory ends. 
The E.O. directs agencies to consider regulatory approaches that reduce 
burdens and maintain flexibility and freedom of choice for the public 
where these approaches are relevant, feasible, and consistent with 
regulatory objectives. E.O. 13563 emphasizes further that regulations 
must be based on the best available science and that the rulemaking 
process must allow for public participation and an open exchange of 
ideas. We have developed this rule in a manner consistent with these 
requirements.

B. Regulatory Flexibility Act

    The Department certifies that this rule will not have a significant 
economic effect on a substantial number of small entities under the 
Regulatory Flexibility Act (5 U.S.C. 601 et seq.). It does not change 
current funding requirements or regulate small entities.

C. Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act

    This rule is not a major rule under 5 U.S.C. 804(2), the Small 
Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act. It will not result in the 
expenditure by State, local, or tribal governments, in the aggregate, 
or by the private sector of $100 million or more in any one year. Nor 
will this rule have significant adverse effects on competition, 
employment, investment, productivity, innovation, or the ability of 
U.S.-based enterprises to compete with foreign-based enterprises. 
Funding for the HIP comes from the Federal Government budget.

D. Unfunded Mandates Reform Act

    This rule does not impose an unfunded mandate on State, local, or 
tribal governments or the private sector of more than $100 million per 
year. The rule does not have a significant or unique effect on State, 
local, or tribal governments or the private sector. A statement 
containing the information required by the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act 
(2 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.) is not required.

E. Takings (E.O. 12630)

    Under the criteria in Executive Order 12630, this proposed rule 
does not affect individual property rights protected by the Fifth 
Amendment nor does it involves a compensable ``taking.'' A takings 
implication assessment is not required.

F. Federalism (E.O. 13132)

    Under the criteria in Executive Order 13132, this proposed rule has 
no substantial direct effect on the States, on the relationship between 
the national government and the States, or on the distribution of power 
and responsibilities among the various levels of government. This rule 
updates the implementation requirements for the HIP, which is a Federal 
program.

G. Civil Justice Reform (E.O. 12988)

    This proposed rule complies with the requirements of Executive 
Order 12988. Specifically, this rule has been reviewed to eliminate 
errors and ambiguity and written to minimize litigation; and is written 
in clear language and contains clear legal standards.

H. Consultation With Indian Tribes (E.O. 13175)

    In accordance with the President's memorandum of April 29, 1994, 
``Government-to-Government Relations with Native American Tribal 
Governments,'' Executive Order 13175 (59 FR 22951, November 6, 2000), 
and 512 DM 2, we have held several listening sessions with 
representatives of federally recognized tribes throughout the 
development of this proposed rule. In 2010, BIA staff implementing the 
HIP program opened a dialogue with Indian tribes because tribes 
indicated that the program as structured was not allowing them to make 
progress on their waiting lists of members with housing needs. The BIA 
has since held several listening sessions and has incorporated comments 
received during those listening sessions into this proposed rule. In 
addition, we are hosting tribal consultation sessions, as listed above, 
in Section III.

I. Paperwork Reduction Act

    The Paperwork Reduction Act (PRA), 44 U.S.C. 3501 et seq., 
prohibits a Federal agency from conducting or sponsoring a collection 
of information that requires OMB approval, unless such approval has 
been obtained and the collection request displays a currently valid OMB 
control number. Nor is any person required to respond to an information 
collection request that has not complied with the PRA. In accordance 
with 44 U.S.C. 3507(d), BIA has submitted the information collection 
and recordkeeping requirements of this proposed rule to OMB for review 
and approval. The following describes the information collection 
requirements in each section of the proposed rule. The information 
collection requirements differ from those in the current rule in that 
applicants need only submit a full application form every four years, 
but applicants must provide an update (in any format) annually if any 
information on the application changes. The application form associated 
with this information collection is also being updated. The revisions 
result in a net decrease of 4,000 hours because a full application is 
now required only once every four years, and applicants must only 
provide annual updates.
    Title: Housing Improvement Program, 25 CFR part 256.
    OMB Control Number: New.
    Type of Review: New.
    Requested Expiration Date: Three years from the approval date.
    Summary: This information collection requires individuals and 
families that are seeking funding assistance for repair, renovation, or 
replacement of existing homes or new housing, to provide certain 
information to establish their eligibility for the HIP administered by 
BIA. This information collection is currently authorized by OMB Control 
Number 1076-0084. This new information collection request is a 
placeholder to accommodate revisions to the application form. There are 
changes to the total annual responses, burden hours, and cost burden. 
If this new information collection is approved, BIA will request a 
transfer of the existing OMB Control Number 1076-0084 to this 
information collection.
    Frequency of Collection: On occasion.
    Description of Respondents: Indian tribal members.
    Total Annual Responses: 10,000.
    Total Annual Burden Hours: 4,000.
    Total Annual Non-Hour Cost Burden: $20,000.
    The Department invites comments on the information collection 
requirements of this proposed rule. You may submit comments to the OMB 
Desk Officer for the Department of the Interior by email at 
[email protected] or by facsimile at (202) 395-5806. Please 
also send a copy of your comments to BIA at the location specified 
under the heading ADDRESSES.
    You can receive a copy of BIA's submission to OMB, including the 
revised form, by contacting the person listed in the FOR FURTHER 
INFORMATION CONTACT section, or by requesting the information from the 
Indian Affairs Information Collection Clearance Officer, Office of 
Regulatory Affairs & Collaborative Action, 1849 C Street NW., MS-3642, 
Washington, DC 20240. You may also view the information collection 
request as submitted to OMB at www.reginfo.gov.
    Comments on the information collection requirements should address:

[[Page 16]]

(1) Whether the collection of information is necessary for the proper 
performance of the HIP, including the practical utility of the 
information to BIA; (2) the accuracy of BIA's burden estimates; (3) 
ways to enhance the quality, utility, and clarity of the information 
collected; and (4) ways to minimize the burden of collection of 
information on the respondents, including the use of automated 
collection techniques or other forms of information technology.

J. National Environmental Policy Act

    This proposed rule does not constitute a major Federal action 
significantly affecting the quality of the human environment.

K. Effects on the Energy Supply (E.O. 13211)

    This proposed rule is not a significant energy action under the 
definition in Executive Order 13211. A Statement of Energy Effects is 
not required.

L. Clarity of This Regulation

    We are required by Executive Orders 12866 and 12988 and by the 
Presidential Memorandum of June 1, 1998, to write all rules in plain 
language. This means that each rule we publish must:
    (a) Be logically organized;
    (b) Use the active voice to address readers directly;
    (c) Use clear language rather than jargon;
    (d) Be divided into short sections and sentences; and
    (e) Use lists and tables wherever possible.
    If you believe that we have not met these requirements, send us 
comments by one of the methods listed in the ``COMMENTS'' section. To 
better help us revise the rule, your comments should be as specific as 
possible. For example, you should tell us which sections or paragraphs 
are unclearly written, which sections or sentences are too long, the 
sections where you believe lists or tables would be useful, etc.

M. Public Availability of Comments

    Before including your address, phone number, email address, or 
other personal identifying information in your comment, you should be 
aware that your entire comment--including your personal identifying 
information--may be made publicly available at any time. While you can 
ask us in your comment to withhold your personal identifying 
information from public review, we cannot guarantee that we will be 
able to do so.

N. Drafting Information

    The primary authors of this document are Les Jensen, Office of 
Indian Services, Bureau of Indian Affairs, and Elizabeth Appel, 
Director, Office of Regulatory Affairs & Collaborative Action--Indian 
Affairs, Department of the Interior.

List of Subjects in 25 CFR Part 256

    Grant programs--housing and community development, Grant programs--
Indians, Housing, Indians, Reporting and recordkeeping requirements.

    For the reasons given in the preamble, the Department proposes to 
amend 25 CFR chapter I, subchapter K, to revise part 256 to read as 
follows:

PART 256--HOUSING IMPROVEMENT PROGRAM (HIP)

Sec.
256.1 Purpose.
256.2 Definitions.
256.3 Policy.
256.4 Information collection.
256.5 What is the Housing Improvement Program?
Subpart A--Determining Eligibility
256.6 Am I eligible for the Housing Improvement Program?
256.7 What housing services are available?
256.8 When do I qualify for Category A assistance?
256.9 When do I qualify for Category B assistance?
256.10 When do I qualify for Category C assistance?
256.11 When do I qualify for Category D assistance?
256.12 Who administers the program?
Subpart B--Applying for Assistance
256.13 How do I apply for the Housing Improvement Program?
256.14 How is my application processed?
Subpart C--Receiving Assistance
256.15 When will I hear if I have received funding?
256.16 What if I don't receive funding?
256.17 How long will I have to wait for work on my house?
256.18 Who decides what work will be done?
256.19 How are work plans prepared?
256.20 How will I find out what work is to be done?
256.21 Who does the work?
256.22 How are construction contractors or companies selected and 
paid?
256.23 Do I have to move out while work is done?
256.24 How can I be sure that construction work meets minimum 
standards?
256.25 How will I find out that the work is done?
256.26 Will I need flood insurance?
256.27 Is my Federal government-assisted house eligible for 
services?
256.28 I have a mobile home; am I eligible for help?
256.29 Can HIP resources be combined with other available resources?
256.30 Can I appeal actions taken under this part?

    Authority:  25 U.S.C. 13, 5 U.S.C. 301, 25 U.S.C. 2 and 9, and 
43 U.S.C. 1457.


Sec.  256.1  Purpose.

    The purpose of the part is to define the terms and conditions under 
which assistance is given to Indians under the Housing Improvement 
Program (HIP).


Sec.  256.2  Definitions.

    As used in this part 256:
    Agency means the current organizational unit of BIA that provides 
services to or with the governing body or bodies and members of one or 
more specified Indian tribes.
    Appeal means a written request for review of an action or the 
inaction of an official of BIA that is claimed to adversely affect the 
interested party making the request, as provided in part 2 of this 
chapter.
    Applicant means an individual(s) filing an application for services 
under the HIP.
    BIA means the Bureau of Indian Affairs in the Department of the 
Interior.
    Category A means the HIP funding category for minor repair not to 
exceed limits in Sec.  256.7 of this part.
    Category B means the HIP funding category for renovation not to 
exceed limits in Sec.  256.7 of this part.
    Category C-1 means the HIP funding category for an owned house that 
cannot be brought up to standard housing condition for $60,000 or less.
    Category C-2 means the HIP funding category for owned land as 
defined in Sec.  256.13(g)(1)-(5).
    Category D means the HIP funding category for down payment 
assistance as defined in Sec.  256.11(a)-(c).
    Certificate of Title or Ownership means a document giving legal 
right to a house constructed with HIP funds.
    Child means a person under the age of 18 or such other age of 
majority as is established for purposes of parental support by tribal 
or state law (if any) applicable to the person at his or her residence, 
except that no person who has been emancipated by marriage can be 
deemed a child.
    Cost effective means the cost of the project is within the cost 
limits for the category of assistance and adds sufficient years of 
service to the house to satisfy the recipient's housing needs.
    Dilapidated housing means a house which in its present condition 
endangers the life, health, or safety of the residents.
    Disabled means having a physical or intellectual impairment that

[[Page 17]]

substantially limits one or more major life activities.
    Family means one or more persons living within a household.
    Homeless means being without a home.
    House means a building for human habitation that serves as living 
quarters for one or more families.
    Household means persons living with the head of household who may 
be related or unrelated to the head of household and who function as 
members of a family.
    Independent trades person means any person licensed to perform work 
in a particular vocation pertaining to building construction.
    Indian means any person who is a member of any federally recognized 
Indian tribe.
    Indian tribe means an Indian or Alaska Native tribe, band, nation, 
pueblo, village or community that the Secretary of the Interior 
acknowledges to exist as an Indian tribe pursuant to Public Law 103-
454, 108 Stat. 4791.
    Overcrowding means a number of occupants per house that exceed 
limits identified in Sec.  256.11.
    Permanent members of household means adults living in the household 
who intend to live there continuously and any children who meet the 
definition of child in this part.
    Regional Director means the officer in charge of a BIA regional 
office or his/her authorized delegate.
    Secretary means the Secretary of the Interior.
    Service area means any of the following within a geographical area 
designated by the tribe and approved by the Regional Director to which 
services can be delivered:
    (1) Reservations (former reservations in Oklahoma);
    (2) Allotments;
    (3) Restricted lands; and
    (4) Indian-owned lands (including lands owned by corporations 
established pursuant to the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act).
    Servicing housing office means the tribal housing office or bureau 
housing office administering the HIP.
    Standard housing means a house that meets the definition of 
standard housing condition in this part.
    Standard housing condition means meets applicable building codes 
within that region and meets each of the following conditions:
    (1) General construction conforms to applicable tribal, county, 
State, or national codes and to appropriate building standards for the 
region.
    (2) The heating system has the capacity to maintain a minimum 
temperature of 70 degrees in the house during the coldest weather in 
the area and be safe to operate and maintain and deliver a uniform heat 
distribution.
    (3) The plumbing system includes a properly installed system of 
piping and fixtures certified by a licensed plumbing contractor.
    (4) The electrical system includes wiring and equipment properly 
installed to safely supply electrical energy for lighting and appliance 
operation certified by a licensed electrician according to the 
applicable electrical code.
    (5) The number of occupants per house does not exceed these limits:
    (i) Two bedroom house: Up to four persons; and
    (ii) Three-bedroom house: Up to seven persons.
    (6) The first bedroom has at least 120 sq. ft. of floor space and 
additional bedrooms have at least 100 sq. ft. of floor space each.
    (7) The house site provides economical access to utilities and is 
easy to enter and leave.
    (8) The house has access to school bus routes, if the household 
includes children who rely on school buses.
    Substandard housing means any house that does not meet the 
definition of standard housing condition in this part.
    Superintendent means the BIA official in charge of an agency 
office.


Sec.  256.3  Policy.

    (a) The BIA housing policy is that every American Indian and Alaska 
Native should have the opportunity for a decent home and suitable 
living environment, which is consistent with the national housing 
policy. The HIP will serve the neediest of the needy Indian families 
who have no other resource for standard housing.
    (b) Every American Indian or Alaska Native who meets the basic 
eligibility criteria defined in Sec.  256.6 may participate in the HIP.
    (c) The BIA encourages tribal participation in administering the 
HIP. Tribal involvement is necessary to ensure that the services 
provided under the program respond to the needs of tribes and program 
participants.
    (d) The BIA encourages partnerships and leveraging with other 
complementary programs to increase basic benefits derived from the HIP, 
such as an agreement with:
    (1) The Indian Health Service to provide water and sanitation 
facilities;
    (2) The United States Department of Agriculture, Rural Development 
to leverage downpayment assistance for a new unit; or
    (3) Any other program and resource.
    (e) The servicing housing office will issue a Certificate of Title 
or Ownership in accordance with these regulations.


Sec.  256.4  Information collection.

    The information collection requirements contained in this part have 
been approved by the Office of Management and Budget under 44 U.S.C. 
3507 et seq. and assigned control number 1076-0084. The information is 
collected to determine applicant eligibility for services and 
eligibility to participate in the program. Response is required to 
obtain a benefit.


Sec.  256.5  What is the Housing Improvement Program?

    The HIP is a safety-net program that provides grants for the cost 
of services to repair, renovate, or replace existing housing, and/or 
provide housing. The program provides grants to the neediest of the 
needy Indian families who:
    (a) Live in substandard housing or are homeless; and
    (b) Have no other resource for assistance.

Subpart A--Determining Eligibility


Sec.  256.6  Am I eligible for the Housing Improvement Program?

    You are eligible for the HIP if you meet all of the following 
criteria:
    (a) You are a member of a federally recognized Indian tribe;
    (b) You live in an approved tribal service area;
    (c) Your annual income is 150 percent or less of the Department of 
Health and Human Services poverty income guidelines, which are 
available from your servicing housing office or the Department of the 
Interior Web site at www.bia.gov;
    (d) Your present housing is substandard as defined in Sec.  256.2;
    (e) You meet the ownership requirements for the assistance needed, 
as defined in Sec.  256.8, Sec.  256.9, or Sec.  256.10;
    (f) You have no other resource for housing assistance;
    (g) You have not previously received assistance relating to 
categories as defined in Sec.  256.9 and Sec.  256.10; Sec.  256.11; 
and
    (h) You did not acquire your present housing through participation 
in a Federal government-sponsored housing program.


Sec.  256.7  What housing services are available?

    Four categories of assistance are available under the HIP, as 
outlined in the following table.

[[Page 18]]



------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                          Where to find
  Type of assistance            What it provides           information
------------------------------------------------------------------------
Category A............  Up to $7,500 in safety or           Sec.   256.8
                         sanitation repairs to the
                         house in which you live, which
                         will remain substandard. Can
                         be provided more than once,
                         but not for more than one
                         house and the total assistance
                         cannot exceed $7,500. (For
                         Alaska, freight cost not to
                         exceed 100 percent of the cost
                         of materials can be added to
                         the cost of the project.).
Category B............  Up to $60,000 in renovation,        Sec.   256.9
                         which will bring your house to
                         standard housing condition, as
                         defined in Sec.   256.2 of
                         this part. Can only be
                         provided once. (For Alaska,
                         freight cost not to exceed 100
                         percent of the cost of
                         materials can be added to the
                         cost of the project.).
Category C............  A modest house that meets the      Sec.   256.10
                         criteria in Sec.   256.10 of
                         this part and the definition
                         of standard housing in Sec.
                         256.2 of this part and whose
                         costs are determined by and
                         limited to the criteria in
                         Sec.   256.19(b) and (c) of
                         this part. Can only be
                         provided once. (For Alaska,
                         freight cost not to exceed 100
                         percent of the cost of
                         materials can be added to the
                         cost of the project.).
Category D............  A down payment toward the          Sec.   256.11
                         purchase of a modest house
                         that meets the definition of
                         standard housing in Sec.
                         256.2.
------------------------------------------------------------------------

Sec.  256.8  When do I qualify for Category A assistance?

    You qualify for interim improvement assistance under Category A if 
it is not cost effective to repair the house in which you live and if 
either of the following is true:
    (a) Other resources to meet your housing needs exist but are not 
immediately available; or
    (b) You qualify for replacement housing under Category C, but there 
are no HIP funds available to replace your house.


Sec.  256.9  When do I qualify for Category B assistance?

    You qualify for renovation assistance under Category B if you meet 
all of the following criteria:
    (a) Your servicing housing office determines that it is cost 
effective to renovate the house.
    (b) You occupy and own the house.
    (c) Your servicing housing office determines that the renovation 
will bring the house to standard housing condition according to all 
applicable building codes.
    (d) You sign a written agreement stating that, if you sell the 
house within 10 years of the completion of repairs and renovation:
    (1) The grant under this part will be voided; and
    (2) At the time of settlement of the sale of the house, you will 
repay BIA the full cost of all renovations made under this part.


Sec.  256.10  When do I qualify for Category C assistance?

    (a) You qualify for replacement housing assistance under Category C 
if you meet one of the three sets of requirements in the following 
table.

------------------------------------------------------------------------
  You qualify for Category C
      assistance if . . .              And . . .            And . . .
------------------------------------------------------------------------
(1) You own the house in which  The house cannot be     [No additional
 you are living as defined in    brought up to           requirement].
 Sec.   256.14(g)(1)-(5).        applicable building
                                 code standards and to
                                 standard housing
                                 condition for $60,000
                                 or less. (For Alaska,
                                 freight cost not to
                                 exceed 100 percent of
                                 the cost of materials
                                 can be added to the
                                 cost of the project).
(2) You do not own a house....  You own land that is    The land has
                                 suitable for housing.   adequate
                                                         ingress and
                                                         egress rights
                                                         and reasonable
                                                         access to
                                                         utilities.
(3) You do not own a house....  You have a leasehold    The land has
                                 or the ability to       adequate
                                 acquire a leasehold     ingress and
                                 on land that is         egress rights
                                 suitable for housing    and reasonable
                                 and the leasehold is    access to
                                 undivided and for not   utilities.
                                 less than 25 years at
                                 the time you receive
                                 assistance.
------------------------------------------------------------------------

    (b) If you qualify for assistance under paragraph (a) of this 
section, you must sign a written grant agreement stating that, if you 
sell the house within 10 years of assuming ownership:
    (1) The grant under this part will be voided; and
    (2) At the time of settlement of the sale of the house, you will 
repay BIA the full cost of the house.
    (c) If you sell the house more than 10 years after you assume 
ownership, the following conditions apply:
    (1) You may retain 10 percent of the original cost of the house per 
year, beginning with the eleventh year.
    (2) If you sell the house after 20 years, you will not have to 
repay BIA.
    (d) A modest house provided with Category C assistance must meet 
the standards in the following table.

------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                Total
                                                 Number of      square
              Number of occupants                 bedrooms   footage \1\
                                                    \1\       (maximum)
------------------------------------------------------------------------
Up to 4 persons...............................            2         1000
Up to 7 persons...............................            3         1200
Over 7 persons................................            4         1400
------------------------------------------------------------------------
\1\ Determined by the servicing housing office, based on composition of
  family. Total living space must comply with applicable American
  Disabilities Act requirements.

Sec.  256.11  When do I qualify for Category D assistance?

    (a) You qualify for grant assistance under Category D if you apply 
for financing from tribal, Federal, or other sources of credit and have 
inadequate income or limited financial resources to meet the lender 
requirements for home ownership.
    (b) The grant must not exceed the amount necessary to secure the 
loan and may be used for down-payment assistance, closing costs, 
education in financial literacy, and home ownership counseling. 
Participation in other complementary housing programs is encouraged.
    (c) The method of awarding the grant must ensure that the funds are 
used for the purpose intended.


Sec.  256.12  Who administers the program?

    The HIP is administered by a servicing housing office operated by 
either a tribe (under a Pub. L. 93-638 contract or a self-governance 
annual funding agreement) or BIA.

[[Page 19]]

Subpart B--Applying for Assistance


Sec.  256.13  How do I apply for the Housing Improvement Program?

    (a) First, obtain an application, BIA Form 6407, from your 
servicing housing office or the BIA Web site.
    (b) Second, complete and sign BIA Form 6407.
    (c) Third, submit your completed and signed application to your 
servicing housing office.
    (d) Fourth, furnish to the servicing housing office documentation 
proving your tribal membership. Examples of acceptable documentation 
include a copy of your Certificate of Degree of Indian Blood (CDIB) or 
a copy of your tribal membership card.
    (e) Fifth, provide proof of income from all permanent members of 
your household.
    (1) Submit signed copies of current 1040 tax returns from all 
permanent members of the household, including W-2s and all other 
attachments. Submit the social security number of the applicant only.
    (2) Provide proof of all other income from all permanent members of 
the household. This includes unearned income such as social security, 
general assistance, retirement, and unemployment benefits.
    (3) If you or other household members did not file a tax return, 
submit a signed notarized statement explaining why you did not.
    (f) Sixth, furnish a copy of your annual trust income statement for 
your Individual Indian Money (IIM) account from your home agency. If 
you do not have an IIM account, furnish a statement from your home 
agency to that effect.
    (g) Seventh, provide proof of ownership of the residence and land 
or potential leasehold interest:
    (1) For fee property, provide a copy of a fully executed deed, 
which is available at your local county or parish court house;
    (2) For trust property, provide certification of ownership from 
your home agency;
    (3) For tribally owned land, provide a copy of a properly executed 
tribal assignment, certified by the tribe;
    (4) For multi-owner property, provide a copy of a properly executed 
lease;
    (5) For a potential lease, provide proof of ability to acquire an 
undivided leasehold (that is, you will be the only lessee) for a 
minimum of 25 years from the date of service; or
    (6) For down-payment assistance, provide a description and the 
location of the house to be purchased, verification of your intent to 
purchase, and the sale price of the house.
    (h) Eighth, if you seek down payment assistance provide a letter 
from the institution where you have applied for mortgage financing that 
specifies:
    (1) The down-payment amount; and
    (2) The closing costs required for you to qualify for the loan.


Sec.  256.14  How is my application processed?

    (a) The servicing housing office will review your application. If 
your application is incomplete, the office will notify you, in writing, 
of what is needed to complete your application and of the date by which 
it must be submitted. If you do not return your application by the 
deadline date, you will not be considered for assistance in that 
program year.
    (b) The servicing housing office will use your completed 
application to determine if you are eligible for the HIP.
    (1) If you are found ineligible for the program, the servicing 
housing office will advise you in writing within 45 days of receipt of 
your completed application.
    (2) If you are found eligible for the program, the servicing 
housing office will assess your application for need, according to the 
factors and numeric values shown in the following table.

------------------------------------------------------------------------
               Ranking factor and        Ranking
   Factor          definition          description        Point value
------------------------------------------------------------------------
1..........  Annual household       Income as a        Points:
              income: Must include   percentage of     25
              income of all          the Federal       20
              persons counted in     poverty
              Factors 2, 3, 4.       guidelines:
              Income includes       0-25
              earned income,        26-50
              royalties, and one-
              time income. A
              household with an
              income 151 percent
              of more of the
              Federal poverty
              guidelines is
              ineligible for HIP.
                                    51-75              15
                                    76-100             10
                                    101-125            5
                                    126-150            0
2..........  Aged person: Person    Years of age:      Points:
              age 62 or older and   Less than 62       0
              must be living in     62 and older       1 point per year
              the house. Maximum                        over age 62
              points awarded under
              this factor is 15,
              regardless of the
              number of years over
              age 62. Thus, a
              resident that is 78
              or older will add 15
              points to the score.
3..........  Disabled individual:   If a there is a    10
              One or more disabled   disabled
              persons living in      resident
              the house. Must fit
              under established
              definition of
              ``disabled as in
              Sec.   256.2.''
              Maximum points
              awarded under this
              factor is 10,
              regardless of the
              number of disabled
              residents.
4..........  Dependent Children:    Number of          Points:
              Must be under the      dependent         3
              age of 18 or such      children:         6
              other age             1                  9
              established for       2                  12
              purposes of parental  3                  15
              support by tribal or  4
              state law (if any).   5 or more
              Must live in the
              house and not be
              married. Maximum
              points awarded under
              this factor is 15.
5..........  Other conditions:....  If any of the      10
              Homeless....   three conditions
              Overcrowded    is present
              conditions.
              Dilapidated
              house (must meet
              definition of
              dilapidated as
              defined in Sec.
              256.2).
             Maximum points
              awarded under this
              factor is 10,
              regardless of
              whether more than
              one condition is
              present

[[Page 20]]

 
6..........  Applicants with an     If applicant has   30
              approved financing     approved
              package.               financing
------------------------------------------------------------------------

    (c) The servicing housing office will develop a list of the 
applications received and considered for the HIP for the current 
program year. The list will include, at a minimum, all of the 
following:
    (1) The number of applications received and, of those, the number 
considered.
    (2) The rank assigned to applicants in order of need, from highest 
to lowest, in accordance with tribal approval and knowledge of need, 
based on the total numeric value assigned using the factors in 
paragraph (b) of this section. (In case of a tie, the family with the 
lower income per household member will be listed first.)
    (3) The estimated allowable costs of the improvements, renovations, 
and replacement projects for each applicant and for the entire priority 
list. This data must identify which applicants will be served based on 
the amount of available funding, starting with the neediest applicant 
and continuing until the available funding is depleted.
    (4) A list of the applicants not ranked, with an explanation of why 
they weren't ranked (such as the reason for ineligibility or the reason 
for incomplete application).
    (d) The servicing housing office submits to the regional office an 
annual fiscal year report that includes all of the following:
    (1) Number of eligible applicants;
    (2) Number of applicants that received service;
    (3) Names of applicants that received service; and
    (4) All of the following for each applicant that received service:
    (i) Date of construction start;
    (ii) Date of construction completion;
    (iii) Cost; and
    (iv) HIP category.

Subpart C--Receiving Assistance


Sec.  256.15  When will I hear if I have received funding?

    Your servicing housing office will inform you whether you will 
receive funds in writing within 45 days after it completes the list 
required by Sec.  256.14(c).
    (a) If funding is available, the office will send you complete 
information on how to obtain HIP services.
    (b) If funding is not available, the office will send you 
instructions on how to update your application for funding for the next 
available program year.


Sec.  256.16  What if I don't receive funding?

    If you don't receive funding, your servicing housing office will 
retain and consider your application for 4 years. During this 4-year 
period, you must ensure that the information on your application is 
still accurate and provide an annual written update if any information 
has changed.


Sec.  256.17  How long will I have to wait for work on my house?

    How long it takes to do work on your house depends on:
    (a) Whether funds are available;
    (b) The type of work to be done;
    (c) The climate and seasonal conditions where your house is 
located;
    (d) The availability of a contractor;
    (e) Your position on the priority list; and
    (f) Other unforeseen factors.


Sec.  256.18  Who decides what work will be done?

    The servicing housing office will determine what work is to be done 
on your house or whether your house will be replaced. The servicing 
housing office also provides the priority list annually to the Indian 
Health Service if the Indian Health Service is responsible for 
verifying availability or feasibility of water and wastewater 
facilities.


Sec.  256.19  How are work plans prepared?

    (a) First, a trained and qualified representative of your servicing 
housing office will visit your house to identify what renovation and or 
replacement will be done under the HIP. The representative will ensure 
that flood, National Environmental Protection Act (NEPA) and earthquake 
requirements are met.
    (b) Second, based on the list of renovations or replacement to be 
done, your servicing housing office will estimate the total cost of 
renovation to your house. Cost estimates will be based on locally 
available services and product costs, or other regional-based, 
industry-recognized cost data, such as that provided by the MEANs or 
Marshall Swift. If the house is located in Alaska, documented, 
reasonable, substantiated freight costs, in accordance with Federal 
Property Management Regulations (FPMR 101-40), not to exceed 100 
percent of the cost of materials, can be added to the cost of the 
project.
    (c) Third, the servicing housing office will determine which HIP 
category the improvements to your house meet, based on the estimated 
cost of renovation or replacement. If the estimated cost to renovate 
your house is more than $60,000, your servicing housing office will 
recommend your house for replacement or refer you to another source for 
housing. The other source does not have to be for a replacement house; 
it may be for government-subsidized rental units or other sources for 
standard housing.
    (d) Fourth, your servicing housing office will develop a detailed, 
written report called a scope of work, that identifies what and how the 
renovation or construction work on your house will be accomplished. The 
scope of work is used to inform potential bidders of what work is to be 
done. When the work includes new construction, the scope of work will 
be supplemented with a set of construction plans and specifications. 
The construction plans must:
    (1) Meet the occupancy and square footage criteria in Sec.  256.10 
(d); and
    (2) Provide complete and detailed instructions to the builder.


Sec.  256.20  How will I find out what work is to be done?

    The servicing housing office will notify you in writing what work 
is being scheduled under the HIP. You will be requested to approve the 
scheduled work by signing a copy of the notice and returning it to the 
servicing housing office. Work will start after you return the signed 
copy to the servicing housing office.


Sec.  256.21  Who does the work?

    Your house will be renovated or replaced by either:
    (a) A licensed and bonded independent contractor or construction 
company; or
    (b) A tribe that operates the HIP under an Indian Self-
Determination and Education Assistance Act agreement.

[[Page 21]]

Sec.  256.22  How are construction contractors or companies selected 
and paid?

    (a) A tribe that operates the HIP under an Indian Self-
Determination and Education Assistance Act agreement may renovate or 
replace your house. In that case, the tribe will not select or pay 
another vendor for the repairs or construction.
    (b) If a tribe that operates the HIP decides not to renovate or 
replace your house itself, your servicing housing office must follow 
approved procurement regulations, Federal procurement or other Bureau-
approved tribal procurement policy.
    (1) Your servicing housing office will:
    (i) Develop a scope of work or statement of work that identifies 
the work to be performed;
    (ii) Have the BIA or tribal procurement office use a bid 
specification to invite bids on the project from interested parties; 
and
    (iii) Approve the winning bidder after:
    (A) Technical review of the bids by and written recommendation from 
BIA or the tribal procurement office; and
    (B) Determination that the bidder is qualified and capable of 
completing the project as advertised.
    (2) [Reserved]
    (c) Payments to the winning bidder are negotiated in the contract 
and based on specified delivery of services.
    (1) Partial payments to independent contractors will not exceed 80 
percent of the value of the completed and acceptable work.
    (2) Recommendation for final payment will be made after final 
inspection and after all provisions of the contract have been met and 
all work has been completed.


Sec.  256.23  Do I have to move out while work is done?

    (a) You will be notified by your servicing housing office that you 
must vacate your house only if:
    (1) It is scheduled for major renovations requiring that all 
occupants vacate the house for safety reasons; or
    (2) It is scheduled for replacement, which requires demolition of 
your current house.
    (b) If you are required to vacate the premises during construction, 
you are responsible for:
    (1) Locating other lodging;
    (2) Paying all costs associated with vacating and living away from 
the house; and
    (3) Removing all your belongings and furnishings before the 
scheduled beginning work date.


Sec.  256.24  How can I be sure that construction work meets minimum 
standards?

    (a) At various stages of construction, a trained and qualified 
representative of your servicing housing office or a building inspector 
will review the work to ensure that it meets construction standards and 
building codes. Upon completion of each stage, further construction can 
begin only after the inspection occurs and approval is granted.
    (b) Inspections of construction and renovation will occur, at a 
minimum, at the following stages:
    (1) Upon completion of inspection footings and foundations;
    (2) Upon completeion of inspection rough-in, roughwiring, and 
plumbing; and
    (3) At final completion.


Sec.  256.25  How will I find out that the work is done?

    Your servicing housing office will advise you, in writing, that the 
work has been completed in compliance with the project contract. Also, 
you will have a final walk-through of the house with a representative 
of your servicing housing office. You will be requested to verify that 
you received the notice of completion of the work by signing a copy of 
the notice and returning it to your servicing housing office.


Sec.  256.26  Will I need flood insurance?

    You will need flood insurance if your house is located in an area 
identified as having special flood hazards under the Flood Disaster 
Protection Act of 1973 (Pub. L. 93-234, 87 Stat. 977). Your servicing 
housing office will advise you.


Sec.  256.27  Is my Federal government-assisted house eligible for 
services?

    No. The intention of this program is to assist the neediest of the 
needy, who have never received services from any other Federal entity.


Sec.  256.28  I have a mobile home; am I eligible for help?

    Yes. If you meet the eligibility criteria in Sec.  256.6 and 
funding is available, you can receive any of the HIP services 
identified in Sec.  256.7. If you request Category B services and your 
mobile home has exterior walls less than three inches thick, you must 
be considered for Category C services.


Sec.  256.29  Can HIP resources be combined with other available 
resources?

    Yes. HIP resources may be supplemented with other available 
resources (e.g., in-kind assistance; tribal or housing authority; and 
any other leveraging mechanism identified in Sec.  256.3(d)) to 
increase the number of HIP recipients.


Sec.  256.30  Can I appeal actions taken under this part?

    You may appeal action or inaction by a BIA official, in accordance 
with 25 CFR part 2.

    Dated: December 21, 2014.
Kevin K. Washburn,
Assistant Secretary--Indian Affairs.
[FR Doc. 2014-30692 Filed 12-31-14; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 4310-4J-P