Tohono O’odham Nation Census Challenge
Tohono O’odham Ki:Ki Association (TOKA)
Project Time Frame:
January 2017 – September 2018
Housing Unit Mapping
Housing Unit Condition Assessment
Analysis of Newly Collected Data
Areas of Focus:
Income and Finances
Language and Culture
Tohono O'odham Nation is a large land-based tribe located in the desert southwest along the US-Mexico border. In collaboration with the Tohono O’odham Nation and the Tohono O’odham Ki:Ki Association (TOKA), Big Water Consulting designed and helped implement two field data collection operations on the Tohono O’odham Indian Reservation and the Nation’s off-reservation trust lands, a Housing Unit Condition Assessment and a Household Survey. Local field staff documented and classified over 5,200 structures and conducted detailed condition assessments of 4,154 housing units. Household surveys were completed by occupants of 635 randomly selected residences, reflecting a response rate of 96.2%. Information describing 2,333 Tohono O’odham residents was collected. The household survey accurately distinguished the population living on the reservation from the population that moved between neighboring Tucson and the Reservation, and revealed a number of unique challenges faced by households living in traditional homes.
The resulting high-quality data set will support comprehensive planning activities, as well as efforts to fund and finance priority programs and projects. In March of 2018, the Nation submitted a portion of the data collected to HUD in order to challenge the U.S. Census data used to determine the Nation’s Indian Housing Block Grant (IHBG) formula allocation and replace it with tribally-collected information that the Nation believed more accurately reflected the size, needs and living conditions of the population. In March of 2019, HUD approved the data submitted by the Nation and, as a result, the “census challenge” erased the very significant anticipated funding losses for the Nation. Additionally, based on the reservation-wide needs identified in the data, the Nation’s Legislative Council agreed to contribute $2.5 million of tribal gaming revenue per year to tribal housing for the next 5 years, with an option to renew or continue that arrangement if relevant data supports an extension.