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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.

To date, a local work force of village residents has built seven homes at Mertarvik:

  • The first three homes were acquired through Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) Housing Improvement Program (HIP) grants in 2006 and constructed in 2007.
  • 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.  Members of the community received training on constructing with SIP panels and the homes were built over the summer of 2012.
  • The seventh home is a prototype house designed by the Cold Climate Housing Research Center (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 below).

Mertarvik Housing Master Plan

Housing Master Plan Documents

In 2016, Newtok Village Council (NVC) asked the Association of Village Council Presidents Regional Housing Authority (AVCP RHA) to provide technical assistance in the development of a Surface Affordable Housing Master Plan for the planning and development of permanent affordable housing at Mertarvik. The Mertarvik Housing Master Plan, completed February 10, 2017 by CCHRC, addresses the short-term and long-term housing and infrastructure needs of the Newtok community at Mertarvik. The Master Plan addresses the need for a phased approach to housing and services at multiple scales, focusing on both the design standards of the individual home and collaboration with agencies on community-wide infrastructure. It also addresses the overcrowding issues of the current village site and the need for additional housing for young families, who left the village due to lack of housing, but wish to return to the village. The plan addresses the very real possibility that a disaster will occur at the old village site before the entire community moves to Mertarvik, and provides guidance on how to plan disaster-relief housing in such a way that it can meet permanent housing needs for the community.   

2016 CCHRC Demonstration Home Photos

Rendering of Mertarvik Demonstration Home.  Drawing: CCHRC

Truss system of Demonstration Home.  Photo: CCHRC

Demonstration Home Building Crew.  Photo: CCHRC

Mertarvik Demonstration Home.  Photo: CCHRC


2012 SIP Home Photos

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

Building the new SIP homes. Photo: Jeffery Charles

            A nearly completed home.  Photo: Jeffery Charles


2007 First Homes Built at Mertarvik Photos

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

Other Mertarvik Housing Efforts



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