Three Interior Alaska villages serviced by Tanana Chiefs Conference will receive federal funding to address housing shortages that have only been underscored by the onset of COVID-19. 

The Department of Housing and Urban Development will distribute more than $2.9 million among the communities of Fort Yukon, Hughes and Tetlin. 

Fort Yukon, a village 145 miles northeast of Fairbanks that serves home to about 600 people, has seen a recent spike in cases of the disease, which village officials says is only made more difficult by a lack of available isolation or quarantine space.

When people get sick, they quarantine at home. But with as many as three generations living under the same roof, one sick individual requiring isolation means the whole family must stay home. 

The village, which reported 21 cases of the disease in a week and half last month, will receive $900,000 to help construct eight new rental units and rehabilitate four already existing homes in the community.

The same amount will be distributed to the village of Hughes, a community of 87 about 210 miles northwest of Fairbanks. The funding will be used to construct three new homes in the area. 

Tetlin, a village of approximately 118 about 20 miles southeast of Tok, will receive $899,085 to construct three small homes, rehabilitate the local laundromat with safe drinking water, hot showers, and new washers and dryers, and repair the local road to allow for better transportation of medical supplies and first responders. 

The grants were approved as part of the congressional CARES Act earlier this year and is partially funded through the Indian Community Development block grant which Alaska Republican Rep. Don Young has worked with other members of Congress to expand in the past. 

Other grants were distributed to a number of other tribes and communities as well as regional health organizations including the Yukon Kuskokwim Health Consortium and the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium. 

The Yukon Kuskokwim health group will receive about $5.6 million to public health during the pandemic and ANTHC will receive about $1 million to support increased epidemiology work. 

Contact staff writer Erin McGroarty at 459-7544. Follow her on Twitter: @FDNMpolitics.