Congresswoman Abby Finkenauer announced today the Meskwaki Nation in Tama County will receive an Indian Housing Block Grant as part of federal efforts to help Native American communities mitigate the spread of the coronavirus.
The $99,520 grant, created by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, is part of $200 million in relief funding used to assist Tribes and Tribally Designated Housing Entities continue affordable housing initiatives in the midst of a global public health crisis.
As of Wednesday morning, Tama County had confirmed 46 positive cases of COVID-19, including two deaths, one of the biggest outbreaks in a rural county.
“This is an unprecedented time and we need to make sure everyone in our district has the resources to protect themselves and their communities,” said the 1st District congresswoman, in a statement. “We’re committed to keeping everyone safe and this grant is a great way to help provide Tribes with the tools they need to have safe, affordable housing for their communities.”
Tama County is one of three counties in the state experiencing an outbreak of COVID-19 at a long-term care facility, according to the Iowa Department of Public Health. The Premier Estates nursing home in Toledo has been impacted, which is just down the road from the Settlement.
A Meskwaki member was one of the first Iowans to test positive for COVID-19 after the virus spread outside the initial counties impacted in the state.
On March 21, the Meskwaki Tribal Council issued an Emergency Declaration and shelter-in-place order for all residents on the settlement, which is now closed to outside visitors.
The order prevents individuals from leaving their homes unless they need to purchase groceries, visit the pharmacy or Meskwaki Health Clinic.
According to the Emergency Declaration, “there has now been positive tests of community transmission of COVID-19 on the Meskwaki Settlement.”
On March 16, the tribal council closed its operations, the Meskwaki Bingo Casino Hotel and Meskwaki Settlement School.
Meskwaki Nation includes the Sac and Fox Tribe of the Mississippi in Iowa — the only federally recognized Indian tribe in the state — and has about 1,400 members.
By Elizabeth Meyer