In an effort to expand its impact and address the housing needs of Navajo and Hopi populations in the Southwest, Community Rebuilds commits to build 16 affordable, green housing units within 2 years. Community Rebuilds will train 56 young indigenous professionals in construction methods by combining the Community Rebuilds Student Education model with the USDA RD Mutual Self Help model, which aims to include future homeowners during the construction process to enable greater stewardship of the residential dwelling and more sustainable community integration. In the process of construction and occupation, the housing project will serve to present straw bale construction as a model for sustainable housing construction that will be communicated via social media, an expanded web portal/mapping project, and a small film project.
The Community Rebuilds' Commitment to building radically sustainable housing in poverty stricken areas on the Navajo and Hopi Reservations will reintroduce this typology of sustainable housing in a region where the housing need is daunting. This proposed typology is small passive solar straw bale homes with earthen interior and exterior plasters, harvested rainwater and solar energy, and community built by indigenous students and future homeowners. Community Rebuilds is targeting a new geographic region while deepening the housing typology to include resource reclamation (solar and water harvesting) for utilities instead of developing massive infrastructure.
Partners are critical to Community Rebuilds' success in working with families on tribal lands. Partners will help Community Rebuilds overcome barriers such as long term financing for families, land ownership/leasing, cost reduction per unit, culturally-appropriate design development, vendor collaboration, and community outreach to name a few.
The CGI Commitment will include 6 months of planning and recruiting implementation partners in the Fall of 2014, which will then lead to 2 years (4 semester blocks) of construction. The timeline is as follows:
2014 August - December (planning and partnership development)
2015 Block 1: February - June (3 to 6 units built)
2015 Block 2: August - December (3 to 6 units built)
2016 Block 3: February - June (3 to 6 units built)
2016 Block 4: August - December (3 to 6 units built)
Over the Fall of 2014, Community Rebuilds will organize a series of meetings among partners to prepare for construction to begin in 2015. During this time the team will produce a set of culturally appropriate architectural plans, develop a funding scheme, identify potential homeowners, students, funders, and instructors, and create a media plan for the commitment. By early 2015 Community Rebuilds will be ready to break ground on the first of 4 blocks of construction. Each block will produce 3 to 6 units in an identified community on either the Hopi or the Navajo Reservation. Blocks will be produced as succinct 6 month semesters. Families will move into their homes at the completion of each semester block.
The Navajo and Hopi Reservations of the desert Southwest are in desperate need of housing and economic development. There are an estimated 18,327 Hopi tribal members (taken from the 2010 census) and 300,048 Navajo tribal members (taken from published data from the Navajo government). In 2014, the current poverty rate for families living below the poverty level is 42% on the Navajo Reservation and 51% on the Hopi Reservation. Furthermore, a Navajo Housing Needs Assessment from 2011 reports the housing needs on the Navajo Reservation to be 34,100 new units, 4,400 units needing replacement, 34,300 units needing repair, and 8,500 units needing expansion.
Community Rebuilds seeks to face this housing challenge by reintroducing a proven typology of sustainable housing while providing the education necessary to make this typology replicable and scalable.