Background

Founded in 1998 at the University of Washington, the American Indian Housing Initiative is a sustained effort by university partners to adress the housing crisis facing American Indians. Currently based at Penn State University, AIHI programs integrate courses, research, and outreach activities to foster mutually beneficial partnerships between universities and tribal organizations.

Initially providing design services, technical assistance, and on-site leadership to non-profit organizations such as the Red Feather Development Group, and the Kelly Foundation, AIHI now assists tribes to develop projects in a turnkey approach, assisting tribal groups with fundraising, and providing start-to-finish design, engineering, and project management of homes and community facilities.

To date, AIHI partners have constructed seven projects across the Northern Plains, including four homes, an adult education center, a community center, and a courtyard. Each project has contributed to the growing interest of tribes in the use of strawbale and other sustainable building technologies.

Recognizing the need to maintain a continued presence in a community, AIHI is currently focused on the Northern Cheyenne Reservation in Eastern Montana. Working closely with tribal leaders, the Northern Cheyenne Housing Authority, and Chief Dull Knife College, AIHI plans to develop a sustained program in homeownership and economic development with the Northern Cheyenne Tribe.

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