SAINT PAULS, N.C. — Some Lumbee Indians in the state say their homes are in pitiful shape and are questioning how tribal leaders spend their housing money.
About 30 members of the group travelled to Washington this week to speak to the Department of Housing and Urban Development.
Rachel Maynor, 73, who lives in a small home in the Lumbee community, didn’t make the trip. The ceiling on her home is taped together so water and filth leak into the cramped area.
“I had to go to the doctor one morning to get the trash out of my eyes,” Maynor said.
Maynor’s home is also without a bathroom.
“I’ve been begging for one for a long time,” she said.
Maynor has asked the Lumbee Tribal Council for a double-wide trailer, even one that has been repossessed.
“They can’t spend that much money, but they can spend money to go to Hawaii and Alaska,” Maynor said referring to a trip Lumbee officials took last year to attend an Indian education convention.
The tribe has a budget of $10,000 for emergency repair work and $20,000 for rehabilitation work per home, Lumbee Housing Director Bosco Locklear.
Maynor said the home is about 100 years old. She said an inspector told her the house is beyond repair and should be condemned. So, she asked for a new home, but was told that would exceed the $20,000 the tribe can spend.
“I feel like a castaway the way they (tribal officials) feel about it,” she said.
Locklear said the tribe can’t afford to give Maynor a new home but said he’s willing to work with her.
“We’ll be glad to sit down with any of our tribal members that feel they’re being mistreated,” Locklear said.
Tribal officials said Thursday they offered Maynor a double-wide trailer, but she turned it down.
Randy Lewis, a tribal member who’s organized protests about the housing program, said the trailer offered to Maynor was mold infested.
Lewis blames the area's housing problems on “corruption and nepotism.”
Lewis said tribal leaders have built $500,000 homes for themselves and family members.
“They do favors for people that can help them politically,” he said.
Lewis also said tribal officials have taken trips in recent months to Hawaii, Albuquerque and Seattle.
Many tribal members have complained that the Lumbee housing program has left work undone.
Locklear said contractors do as much as they can with the money they have.
“You spend the $10,000, well, that doesn’t get all the problems solved,” Locklear said.
Maynor said she’s pleased with a meeting she had Tuesday with the HUD official.
“And he said I should not have to come to Washington to talk about a home. It should have already been done down here.”