LAGUNA PUEBLO, N.M. (KRQE) – The Laguna Pueblo is feeling the crunch of the housing crisis. Between higher birth rates and more people choosing to stay, tribal members are stuck living away from their community.

Jamie Navenma, with the Laguna Housing Development and Management Enterprise, says the population is growing on the Pueblo. “Unfortunately, there’s little to no housing that’s available,” says Navenma.

But affordable housing is coming to the Laguna Pueblo for the first time in more than 20 years. “It really was to bring back, again, tribal members that are having to commute from Albuquerque or Grants and keep them closer…but also to provide recirculating of funding back into the community so that they’re not having to take that back off the reservation,” says Navenma.

Construction started in February for a $15 million project – a 20-unit apartment building on a 5.5 acre lot. This affordable housing project was one of five priority projects identified. Navenma says, “The idea is to start with this development, see how it works, and hopefully over a couple years, the Pueblo will be able to look at other funding sources so that we can bring in homeownership units as well.”

Laguna isn’t the only community growing. The Pueblo of Acoma just finished a 30-unit low-income housing tax credit project. The Jemez Pueblo is working on a small housing project too.

Navenma believes this affordable housing project will be a stepping stone into many other housing opportunities in the future. He says, “Hopefully within 12 to 18 months will have these units up and ready and occupied; so we’re excited this is moving forward.”