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Window Rock, Ariz. • The construction of new houses for Navajo veterans can start now that the contract between the tribe and Home Depot USA has been signed.

Navajo Nation President Ben Shelly signed the contract last week to authorize the Department of Navajo Veterans Affairs to partner with Home Depot in Farmington to receive housing materials to build 75 homes across the reservation.

"Our Navajo veterans have fought on the frontlines for the protection of Navajo sovereignty and our way of life. Utilizing funding from the Navajo Veterans Trust Fund to build them new homes is the least we can do for them," Shelly said during the signing ceremony on Tuesday in his office in Window Rock, Ariz.

In September, the Navajo Nation Council approved legislation to divide the mandatory funds set aside for the Navajo Nation Veterans Trust Fund.

Each year, 4 percent of the tribe's projected revenue is transferred into the Veterans Trust Fund.

The 4 percent will now be divided by sending 2 percent to the trust fund and 2 percent to the veterans affairs department through fiscal year 2017.

The veterans affairs department is using its amount to construct at least 15 homes and provide minor home renovations for veterans in each of the tribe's five agencies.

Shelly signed the bill into law on Sept. 13, and the contract to receive construction materials from Home Depot was submitted for the tribe's review process by the veterans affairs department on Dec. 23. After it completed the review process, it was submitted to president's office last week for his signature.

The $1.9 million contract will provide housing material for 75 homes through Dec. 30, 2014. The homes will be energy efficient one-, two- or three-bedrooms houses and will be 700, 900 or 1,100 square feet.

David Nez, who heads the veterans affairs department, attended the signing ceremony along with Joseph Lucero, a pro account sales associate with Farmington's Home Depot, and Tim Goodluck, a senior planner with the veterans affairs department.

"I feel like we are really moving on because we are now ready to deliver the materials so actual construction can (start)," Nez said.

He said four of the five agencies have identified the veterans who will receive houses, and their home sites have been reviewed and deemed ready for construction.

"The veterans already know they're getting their homes built," Nez said, adding that each agency will hire construction crews from communities within the agencies.

Lucero said the delivery of material will be completed in phases so material is not damaged by weather while construction is completed.

"It becomes an assembly line," he said. "That way we can stay on target and within their goal."

Noel Lyn Smith covers the Navajo Nation for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4636. Follow her @nsmithdt on Twitter.