Navajo Housing Authority Celebrates New Homes in Former Bennett Freeze Area

TUBA CITY, Ariz. – May 10, 2024 – The Navajo Housing Authority (NHA) celebrated a significant milestone on Wednesday (May 8th) with a ribbon-cutting ceremony marking the completion of six new homes in the former Bennett Freeze Area (FBFA). The ceremony, held at one of the new homes, brought together community members, stakeholders, and NHA representatives to commemorate the culmination of efforts to address housing challenges in the region.

The event began with heartfelt remarks, reflecting on the journey to provide housing for the Navajo families. Heather Duncan-Etsitty, CEO of NHA, shared her personal experience of being a product of Navajo Housing Authority and emphasized her passion for addressing housing needs within the Navajo Nation.

“The day I applied, I had to hitchhike from Chinle all the way to Window Rock and I applied that day for housing” said Duncan-Etsitty. “Not even two weeks later, I got a call saying, we got you a home. I took care of that home. I loved that home. I got myself back into school and to this day, I have so much love and compassion for our people, the families that we put into these homes.”

Marcus E. Denetdale, NHA Board of Commissioners, gave a special thanks to everyone involved in making the project a success. He highlighted the importance of collaborative efforts and underscored the long-term impact of housing initiatives on future generations.

“We all extend our greatest sincerest gratitude to everyone who is here this morning and also to the homeowners who are here this morning as well,” said Denetdale. “There's a lot of people that are behind the scenes to make a project like this successful, to make a project like this happen… These decisions are not just impacting one home but are impacting generations to come.”

Edison Johnson, NHA project manager, reflecting on the challenges of the Bennett Freeze, emphasized the significance of providing homes for Navajo families and acknowledged the hard work of the NHA team. 

“When I look back, the Bennett Freeze is almost five decades now, and the elders that we interviewed, they're now in their eighties and nineties,” said Johnson. “I know we're told that you guys take too long, but I always say just hang on, bear with us, you'll see this. And I'm just so glad that we can see it now.”

Jimmie Eltsosie, a recipient of one of the six newly constructed houses, proudly invited NHA and the public to his new home to host the ribbon-cutting ceremony. Although Eltsosie doesn’t speak English, he expressed appreciation to everyone involved in making his new home a reality. Until now, Eltsosie has been living in a travel trailer parked on the property behind the new home. Eltsosie plans to have the new home blessed by a medicine man. 

The ribbon-cutting ceremony symbolized a new beginning for Navajo families in the FBFA, marking the culmination of years of planning, dedication, and collaboration. As keys were handed over to new homeowners, there was a sense of hope and excitement for the future.