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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 78 occupied housing units. A structural survey of homes in 2014 found that 12 homes in the village have the structural integrity to be moved, however the remaining homes in Newtok are in poor to very poor condition. Nearly all of the homes are twenty-five years old or greater. The population at Newtok is young and growing and overcrowding in existing homes is an issue. Housing is currently the single limiting factor to the Newtok community moving to Mertarvik.

The Newtok Village Council was planning to renovate donated Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson barracks for housing in Mertarvik. However, the estimated cost of renovating and installing the barracks in Mertarvik was more than building a completely new home. Because of the prohibitive cost of reconfiguring the barracks, the community has decided to construct new homes at the relocation site. In October 2018, Newtok Village Council selected a design by Cold Climate Housing Research Center (CCHRC) and requested it be modified to accommodate four bedrooms.

CCHRC Floorplan
Floorplan of new Mertarvik Homes; Drawing: Cold Climate Housing Research Center

To date, a local work force of village residents has built eleven homes at Mertarvik with another 13 to be built in 2019:

  • Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) Housing Improvement Program (HIP) Homes: The first three homes were acquired through BIA HIP grants in 2006 and constructed in 2007 (see photos in drop-down "2007 BIA HIP Homes Photos" below).
  • R-Valued Homes Structural Insulated Panel (SIP) Homes: In 2011, Newtok received grants for three additional homes through the Association of Village Council Presidents (AVCP) Regional Housing Authority through HUD's Native American Housing Assistance and Self Determination Act (NAHASDA) Program. The community decided to purchase Structural Insulated Panel (SIP) home packages through Wasilla-based R-Valued Homes. Members of the community received training on constructing with SIP panels and the homes were built over the summer of 2012 (see photos in drop-down "2012 R-Valued SIP Home Photos" below).
  • Cold Climate Housing Research Center (CCHRC) Prototype House: The seventh home is a prototype house designed by the CCHRC, funded by a BIA HIP grant. The prototype house is both extremely energy efficient and moveable. The house has a skiddable foundation and can be towed across the ice or tundra when needed. It contains a small water-treatment plant and a generator, which can be used before public utilities are available at the new site. Construction of the prototype is being completed in summer 2016, using CCHRC instructors and a local crew (see photos in drop-down " 2016 CCHRC Demonstration Home Photos" below).
  • Association of Village Council Presidents (AVCP) Regional Housing Authority (RHA) Homes: Four new homes to be completed in summer 2018 through the AVCP RHA with HUD Indian Community Development Block Grant Imminent Threat and Title IV funding.
  • New CCHRC Designed Homes: In 2019, another 13 homes will be developed at Mertarvik based on the floorplan depicted above.

More information on each of these efforts is provided below.

2017 Mertarvik Housing Master Plan JBER Housing Module Assessments 2016 CCHRC Demonstration Home Photos 2012 R-Valued SIP Home Photos 2007 BIA HIP Homes Photos Other Mertarvik Housing Efforts

Contact for More Information

Sally Russell Cox
Division of Community and Regional Affairs
Department of Commerce, Community, and Economic Development
550 West 7th Avenue, Suite 1650
Anchorage, AK 99501
Phone: (907) 269-4588
FAX: (907) 269-4563