Advancing affordable housing construction methods for Indigenous communities
A housing crisis exists in Southwest Indigenous communities where limited home building options significantly cripple community development which lead to housing shortages, substandard homes, overcrowded housing conditions, and home building options that are too cost-burdening. The options for building a house in rural Indigenous communities can be expensive from limited home building materials and transportation. IndiGenius Development is an enterprise to advance the use of a self-build affordable housing construction method for Indigenous communities that utilize green building practices, technology, and home building methods with accessible materials. The enterprise will develop a website, educational workshops, and community planning tools to assist community members that seek self-building construction methods. Viable options for self-build construction methods will be explored through effective outreach strategies and networking to technical and professionals knowledgeable about the effectiveness of building methods with potential in growth for the regions inside the Diné (Navajo) Nation. Tuba City is located in the high desert plateaus of the Navajo Nation in Arizona with access to a legislative chapter house and tribal housing development offices. This is an enterprise to manage and share information about home building methods for inquisitive homeowners on the Diné Nation that can increase the knowledge of cohesive and accessible way to learn how to build a home for a region in strong need facing this housing crisis. The communal value of IndiGenius would be accessible through a website that can assist in spreading information regarding land tenure home site leasing processes, valuable green building practices, and affordable home building methods. This website will include a database of licensed construction builders and educators, licensed contractors, grants and nonprofits assistance, and building codes for reference. I am also looking to become a more visible presence in the community through chapter meetings and community development meetings to stay updated on Diné tribal policy and resources.
IndiGenius Development is an enterprise to advance the use of a self-build affordable housing construction method for Indigenous communities that utilize green building practices, technology, and home building methods with accessible materials. The enterprise will develop a website, educational workshops, and community planning tools to assist community members who seek self-building construction methods. Our organization will explore the use of straw bale construction methods as a viable, sustainable, and affordable technique that has valuable thermal insulating with accessible capabilities to be useful through various designs. I am proposing straw bale construction method workshops with green building experts and seek building codes/standards. Suppliers and contractors will be sought out and shared as affordable solutions for construction methods for houses in Indigenous communities.
My main barrier for this enterprise is the funding to start the research and outreach to investigate grassroots community planning and transportation in seeking out the technical and professional knowledge about viable home building methods, and funding for workshops for community members to attain skills in alternative building methods. I also require more partnerships with more organizations to unify goals and utilize resources to help Indigenous community members build their own homes.
Our solution's stage of development:Idea
Where our project is located:Tuba City, AZ, USA
Where our solution team is headquartered or located:Tuba City, AZ, USA
How we use technology in our project:
This will investigate the use of ancestral technology of traditional home structures with locally sourced materials. Using accessible technology, straw bale, and clay building materials will make innovative home building practices more viable, affordable, & practical. The website communication portal will have posting boards, community planning tools, and scheduling tools for homeowner resources. Website materials will include workshops, videos, printable guides, and how to guides to help inspire ideas. IndiGenius promotes the use of technology like solar panels, wind energy technology, wireless telecommunications, greywater storm water storage, and flood insurance rate mapping resources from FEMA’s websites for stormwater management.
What makes our project innovative:
The practical use of innovative self-build home construction models has yet to be presented as viable and affordable options for prospective homeowners that make information readily available from the concept to the final build stage. This enterprise will be a strong advocate for housing and innovation to meet the desperate need for affordable housing in Indigenous communities. Presenting policy and practice, IndiGenius is based on the grassroots community planning practices to give homeowners accessible information and community planning tools like workshops and training from green builders. This enterprise seeks to be a one stop shop to make housing a reality.
How our project will be accessible and affordable to our community:
IndiGenius is accessible to the community through a website that presents home building construction methods that are viable and presented in ways that prospective homeowners can review cost, materials, suppliers, contractors, and consulting. Large quantity supply trips will decrease transportation costs to make things more affordable. House plans will be available for purchase at an affordable price in consultation with architects and engineers. There are no plans to charge fees or membership to gain information. Educational tools such as outreach trips and workshops will be organized at low cost.
IndiGenious proposes to serve 15 individuals with workshops for a straw bale construction method and at least 100 with outreach efforts including how to set up solar panels, utilize grey water storage, and gardening methods promoting the use of food sovereignty. We will provide educational materials for self build construction methods and find ways to make the materials affordable such as bulk ordering to reduce transportation costs.
Our future project goals:
The future goals for IndiGenius will include hiring housing consultants for architectural designs, site development engineering, and suppliers of construction materials for rural Indigenous communities.
Highlights from our project:
IndiGenius helped build a traditional roundhouse at the Salt River Pima Indian Community with an Earthship design group to learn about Onk Akimel O’odham construction methods.
- Leon Begay Founder, IndiGenius Development