Net-Zero Homes Help Solve an Affordable Housing Crisis at a Native American Reservation

The $60 million plan involves members of the Oglala Lakota Nation helping to build their own homes.
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The Pine Ridge Reservation in Porcupine, South Dakota, is home to 35,000 members of the Oglala Lakota Nation and comprises some of the poorest counties in the country. Besides widespread unemployment, the area struggles with overcrowded housing and, by some estimates, may require 4,000 new houses. In 2013 a local nonprofit, the Thunder Valley Community Development Corp., commissioned a master plan for an eco-friendly community that would generate economic, cultural, and social opportunities for Pine Ridge. The plan calls for a 34-acre mixed-use development, estimated to cost $60 million, with roughly 100 units of affordable housing. The first phase includes 21 units that the community is helping to build. "Whenever you’re building houses, you have the opportunity to use that product as a workforce-development training program," says designer Rob Pyatt of Boulder, Colorado. 

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