New homes coming to Nunapitchuk and other Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta villages

Posted: Friday, November 24, 2000

BETHEL (AP) -- There's good news for some residents of Nunapitchuk and surrounding villages. They're getting new homes this summer.

Houses will be built in Nunapitchuk -- as well as other villages throughout the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta -- bringing residents ammenities many have done without in aging homes, such as solid walls and insulation. The boost comes from the Native American Housing Assistance and Self Determination Act.

For now, the Nunapitchuk Tribal Council is searching for ways to improve conditions for residents. With them in mind, council leader Robert Nick attended the fourth annual Association of Village Council Presidents Housing and Self-Determination Conference.

Tribal council leaders from 56 communities attended the conference in Bethel last week to discuss the association's future economic-development projects, including $24 million worth of house construction in villages across the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta. Also discussed was an apprenticeship program to train villagers in mechanical and electrical work.

''We wanted to bring the people in to let them know they have a voice, to let them know we aren't the ones making decisions for them, that we are just the workers, they are the representatives,'' Ron Howard, director of the association's regional housing authority in Bethel, told The Tundra Drums.

Conference participants attended workshops to learn techniques for cold-weather construction, such as building foundations over permafrost, insulating houses and installing safe electrical systems.

The help comes just in time for many villages in the region.

In Kwethluk, for example, floors under windows and doors are warped in some houses, letting rain and snow in. Many doors are shoddy, and don't stand up to constant use.

''Once you hit it, it breaks,'' Paul Kionya said. ''This is no good if you have many kids.''

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