WAPATO, Wash.  — For the past few weeks, Stephanie Shippentower and Billie Shoulderblade have been helping renovate homes at a Yakama Nation housing project they were recently kicked out of.

Shoulderblade was long behind on her rent. Shippentower had been caught living there with her dad after she was evicted two years ago because of repeated police calls to her house.

Both women are among a wave of evictions that began in June, the largest the tribe has seen in recent history, with more than 270 tribal members kicked out of housing across the 1.2 million-acre reservation for violating lease agreements.

Yakama Nation Housing Authority officials acknowledge that rules have long been ignored in at least one housing project, where overcrowding from unauthorized tenants for years fostered drug use, crime and unkempt properties. While the push to clean up housing projects is sudden and drastic, housing officials say something has to be done to improve the quality of life.


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