Newtok Planning Group

Mertarvik Housing

Critical to the success of the relocation to Mertarvik is the Newtok community's ability to secure funding for the construction of new homes or the relocation of existing homes.  The current village of Newtok contains 75 houses, most of which are in poor to very poor condition. Nearly all of the homes are twenty-five years old or greater. Between six to 22 homes are believed to be moveable.  The population at Newtok is young and growing and overcrowding in existing homes is an issue. Current projections of housing needs are that 80 housing units are needed at Mertarvik. The community has built six houses to date.

The first three homes built at Mertarvik were acquired through Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) Housing Improvement Program (HIP) grants.  The housing grants were awarded to three elders in Newtok in early 2006, however the community had great difficulty finding a barge operator who was willing to deliver the housing packages to Mertarvik where no barge landing was yet built.

By 2007, the community finally found a company that would deliver the housing packages to Mertarvik.  A work crew of community residents met the barge and off-loaded the housing packages.  The three homes were built over the course of the next two years by community members and have provided temporary lodging for some of the contractors working at Mertarvik.  The community plans to move the homes up to the area selected for the new townsite in the near future. 

Off-loading BIA HIP housing packages from the barge.  Photo: Stanley Tom

Residents from Newtok building the homes.  Photo: Stanley Tom

The first three homes at Mertarvik.  Photo: Sally Russell Cox

In 2011, Newtok received grants for three additional homes, two through the Association of Village Council Presidents (AVCP) Regional Housing Authority, and the third from BIA.  This time, the community decided to purchase Structural Insulated Panel (SIP) home packages.  Members of the community received training on constructing with SIP panels and the homes were built over the summer of 2012.

Building the new SIP homes in 2012.  Photo: Jeffery Charles

Photo: Jeffery Charles

A nearly completed home.  Photo: Jeffery Charles


For more information contact:

Sally Russell Cox

Division of Community and Regional Affairs
Department of Commerce, Community, and Economic Development
550 West 7th Avenue, Suite 1640
Anchorage, AK 99501
Phone: (907) 269-4588 FAX: (907) 269-4066
Email:sally.cox@alaska.gov