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PUBLIC NOTICE: 2/23/2023 30 Day Inspection Period and Comments Received from USDA Rural Development’s Periodic Review of Rural Areas in Suffolk County, New York (Housing Programs)

Christopher Stewart
Release Date

USDA Rural Development has concluded the 90 Day Public Notice and Comment Period, for Suffolk County, NY to determine if the tribal territory of the Shinnecock Indian Nation should be classified as rural for Rural Development’s Housing Programs.  In accordance with 7 CFR 3550.56 and HB-1-3550, Section 5.3 (C)(1), Rural Development must conduct periodic reviews to identify areas that qualify, or no longer qualify as rural.  The last rural area reviews were performed in 2018 using the 2010 census data.  This will serve as an interim review, specific to the tribal territory of the Shinnecock Indian Nation, with a statewide review to occur later in 2023.   


“Rural” and “rural area” for the purpose of establishing eligibility to participate in USDA housing programs is defined in Section 520 of the Housing Act of 1949 (as amended) (Act).  The definition can also be found in HB-1-3550, Chapter 5, Section 5.3 (A).  Current housing program eligibility maps can be found https://eligibility.sc.egov.usda.gov/eligibility/welcomeAction.do


Rural Development received and reviewed (2) comments submitted in writing, which were in support of classifying the Shinnecock Indian Nation lands as rural, in accordance with the above regulations.  Below is a summary of comments received:

Comments were in support of the rural classification, as there is a need for carefully planned housing, rehabilitation of existing housing, protecting the open space and natural resources of Shinnecock lands. 

One commenter spoke to the fact that the majority of Shinnecock tribal members have long considered their territory to be rural, and view their lands as incorrectly classified as urban / non-rural.  Tribal members (81%) believe in the importance of maintaining a rural quality of life; to maintain uncleared and unpaved areas on Shinnecock for natural habitat and spiritual well-being.  “Due to the insular nature of the community, the way it is geographically, from the surrounding jurisdiction by water, as well as significant social, economic and political factors, the Community has remained largely separate, rural in character and nature, and self-sustaining from the larger non Indian population.”  Given the low population density (800 acres of land which is home to 711 enrolled tribal members), wealth disparity with high poverty rate exceeding 65%, homes in need of substantial improvements, lack of capital and other socio-economic distinctions between this tribal community and those which surround them, they feel they meet the criteria to be classified as rural. 

For a complete review of comments received, please contact Single Family Housing Program Director, Jennifer Jackson at (315) 477-6417 or via email at jennifer.jackson@usda.gov

Based on this rural area review conducted specific to the Shinnecock Indian Nation, comments received, and rural area guidance located in Handbook HB-1-3550, Chapter 5, the rural eligibility designation is proposed to change for the following areas:  

Shinnecock Indian Nation Tribal Lands in Suffolk County, NY designated as “Shinnecock Neck” and “Westwoods”.

These areas proposed to become rural can be viewed at: https://ruraldevelopment.maps.arcgis.com/apps/webappviewer/index.html?id=0c91dce194fa438dbc1c11882e145eec