Across the U.S., Native Americans living on tribal lands suffer from an extreme lack of housing. Thousands are left homeless or living in substandard, crowded accommodations. Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, located in the most impoverished county in the United States, is particularly vulnerable, with an estimated average household size of 17 people per home and 60% of homes categorized as substandard (American Indian Humanitarian Foundation).
At TWP, we recognize that solving the housing crisis on Native American Reservations will require dedication and support from many, but we believe that it is the first step to improving people’s lives. As with all of our projects, we are approaching this challenge with solutions that create healthier conditions for people while protecting the natural resources upon which they depend, and doing so in culturally appropriate ways.
Currently, our focus is on Compressed Earth Block (CEB) construction. CEBs are made from locally sourced clays, are easy and safe to create, and are naturally great insulators which make them highly energy efficient. With this technology, we can build affordable, green homes, but just as importantly – we can provide CEB training to tribal members. Green job skills can combat both the housing shortage and the extremely high rates of unemployment on reservations, allowing tribal members the ability to gain back control of many aspects of their lives. In conjunction with our renewable energy technologies, such as our solar air heaters, our CEB homes offer an affordable, and energy independent model to the housing crisis on reservations.
Our most recent building project of a CEB home for a Lakota family on Pine Ridge reservation has been one of the most exciting achievements. Past projects include two Quonset buildings, one CEB office, and two straw-bale demonstration homes.