Kickapoos, Keetoowahs to Build Senior Housing Facilities in Oklahoma

Article excerpt

Two Native American tribes in Oklahoma are developing housing facilities for their senior members.

The Kickapoo Tribe of Oklahoma envisions a 10-unit assisted- living center at its tribal campus north of McLoud, and the United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians is building a 30-unit elder living housing complex near Tahlequah.

According to Construction Manager Jimmy Carter, proposals from design/build firms bidding for the Kickapoo center are due by 4 p.m. Dec. 30 at the tribal health center. A facility of 7,500 to 8,500 square feet is planned.

"This is innovative for us," said Nicholas Wahpepah, grants writer and compliance officer for the Kickapoo Tribe of Oklahoma. "We have programs in place for our elders, but no assisted-living units."

According to the Kickapoo housing authority, the tribe currently has 26 low-rent houses for qualifying members: 11 units for the elderly plus 15 family units.

Residents of the proposed new center can live independently, but help will be available to them if they need it, Wahpepah said.

The tribe's nutrition center, where meals are served, is nearby, he said. The assisted-living center will be staffed with at least one registered nurse around-the-clock, seven days a week, and the tribe's nutrition staff and personnel "will be in and out of the facility each day, assisting with meals," Wahpepah said. During regular business hours other tribal employees will be available for assistance when necessary, he said.

The request for proposals for the project indicates the design/ build contract will be awarded in January and the tribe wants the assisted-living center constructed within 300 days. Plans are to have the center up and running in the early part of 2013, Wahpepah said.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will provide technical support, according to the request for proposals.

"We solicited them because of their expertise," Wahpepah said. The Corps of Engineers "has been doing projects like this for years," will provide expertise with inspections and will ensure that the new facility "meets all of the federal and state guidelines and codes for an assisted-living center," he said. …