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Repair work stalls on crumbling Shiprock homes

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FARMINGTON, N.M. (AP) — Money set aside to repair crumbling homes in a development in Shiprock may be used for other projects if the funding doesn't get used soon.

The Farmington Daily Times reports (http://bit.ly/Xe0UYW) that only about half the houses in the 90-home development were finished or close to being completed. Only one or two homes are being lived in.

Many have been damaged by weather and vandalism. Little is left of their windows, walls or interiors. The floors are littered with glass, the walls covered with profanity-laden graffiti. Many have been stripped of water heaters, air conditioners and other appliances.

About a year ago, the Navajo Housing Authority set aside $18 million to fix the homes. But the authority, which didn't start the project but invested $11 million, may pull that repair money if it isn't used soon.

The money is only available for two years after the authority sets it aside, meaning the company only has a year left to use it, a tribal delegate said. The authority has threatened to shift the money to a youth center in Dilkon, Ariz.

The authority and a company that was in charge of the project but ran into problems had agreed that the authority would take over the project until the repairs were complete.

Russell Begaye, a Navajo Nation Council delegate from Shiprock, said the authority was to make repairs to its own standards and return oversight of the development to the company when repairs were complete. "(The authority) would provide all funds to fix the houses," Begaye said.

Everything seemed to be on track, but the company never signed the agreement.

The authority and the company are expected to meet March 7 to try to iron out remaining problems, said housing authority spokesman Christian Bigwater.

Begaye believes the company may want to make repairs itself to regain credibility but worries that if it doesn't follow through with the agreement, the houses will never get fixed.

If the $18 million is not used soon, the money will be re-allocated to other housing authority projects.

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Information from: The Daily Times, http://www.daily-times.com

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