AVCP Regional Housing Authority providing homes, jobs and training opportunities
The AVCP Regional Housing Authority recently moved in families into newly constructed homes in Napaskiak and Nightmute. The four units are part of 56 units constructed this past year. Move ins are scheduled for Aniak, Pilot Station, Toksook Bay, Scammon Bay, Tuluksak and Kotlik in the following weeks and months. New construction for 40 more units recently started in Akiak (7), Goodnews Bay (4), Tuntutuliak (8), Kongiganak (9), Kwigillingok (4), Russian Mission (5), Crooked Creek (1), Red Devil (1) and Upper Kalskag (1). Two more will be constructed for replacement homes in Upper Kalskag and Crooked Creek.
Ron Hoffman, CEO of AVCP RHA, stated that AVCP Housing constructs, modernizes, and weatherizes houses by employing local people using the Force Account method. This method has trained and employed hundreds of local people in all AVCP RHA projects. This past year, AVCP RHA broke previous records by employing over 730 people and paying over $11 million dollars in wages and benefits.
“I’m very proud to report that this past decade we’ve constructed 340 housing units by force account, not including teacher housing,” he said. “We have paid well over $84.6 million dollars in benefits and wages during the 10-year span.”
The Akiak VPSO Housing Project
Hoffman also stated that AVCP Housing is undergoing a VPSO housing demonstration or pilot project under AHFC’s VPSO Housing Program. AVCP RHA had received a $450,000 grant from AFHC to build a VPSO house in Akiak. Therefore, AVCP RHA has been working in partnership with the AVCP VPSO Program, Alaska State Troopers, and Akiak Native Community on this important project to house their VPSO. AVCP RHA is constructing a 3 bedroom unit this summer and when completed it will be turned over to the Akiak Tribal Government to own, operate and maintain the unit for the Akiak VPSO program.”
Regional TDHE Headquarters
The skyline of Bethel is changing as well. AVCP Housing is constructing a new regional office that will be completed later this year.
“We’ve contracted the piling installation, electrical and mechanical installation portions, but the rest of the workforce building the new office is drawn by force account composed of our local and regional workers,” Hoffman said. “Joe Demantle, originally from Tuluksak, oversees the on-site construction facility. Once again, we have the skills and experience to construct a large commercial building. In the past, this type of construction, even for village housing units, was always contracted out, restricting employment opportunities for our people.” Hoffman stated it will be great to operate under one facility instead of three once the new office is complete. AVCP Housing received $5 million from an ARRA appropriation to help build the new building, while the rest came from BIA guaranteed loan and other program funds.
Future Yuut Yaqungviat Dorm
“I am also excited about our partnership with AVCP Inc. We entered into agreement to renovate the existing the current AVCP RHA office building to accommodate the AVCP Yuut Yagungviat and airframe training participants and build them a dormitory where they can stay while undergoing training,”
Hoffman stated. “Currently, they’re housed in various locations in Bethel. This will support a great and successful training program.”
Home Modifications for the Disabled
Another partnership was recently created with YKHC’s Development and Disability Department and AVCP RHA’s Special Projects Department to plan, fund and construct nine disability ramps in eight villages. This project was funded by Department of Health and Social Services; Home Modification and Upgrade to Retain Home Grant.
“Together we are planning to build 9 ramps in 8 villages starting this summer -2 ramps in Kwigillingok, 1 each in Kotlik, Goodnews Bay, Akiachak, Atmautluak, Hooper Bay, Quinhagak and Chevak will be constructed,” Hoffman said.
AVCP RHA as a TDHE and its Programs
The organization has increased affordable housing programs and services to the tribes for which AVCP RHA is the Tribally Designated Housing Entity (TDHC). Today, AVCP RHA is the TDHC for 49 federally recognized tribes in the region. According to Hoffman, in the past 10 years, AVCP RHA has demonstrated its commitment to increase the number of programs and services to tribal members especially with solutions to address the housing needs of the region and increase economic opportunities as well. These include the Village Allocation Program, Homeownership Assistance Program, Very Low Income Housing, Education Housing Assistance Grants, Low Rent Programs, and Emergency Voucher Assistance Program. To learn more about these programs, please call the Tribal Operations staff.
2011 Summer Projects
AVCP RHA Modernization has a total of 145 CAS units scheduled to be renovated this summer and fall including 2010’s projects continuations. Each project in the villages will start earlier or later but it is dependent on the barge delivery being on schedule. The 2011 housing projects will start this summer in the villages of Bethel, Upper Kalskag, Hooper Bay, Platinum, Nunapitchuk, Napakiak and Eek.
Additional Triplex projects will be constructed in Aniak, Napakiak, Tuntutuliak and Kipnuk.
“We’ve hired 8 experienced and qualified Field Project Superintendents that will be working both with Modernization and Weatherization to ensure that our homes are properly worked on with precision and care to sustain the life of the home,” Hoffman said. “We also hired 2 long time seasonal workers, specializing in leveling homes and upgrade any electrical wiring and components.”
The Great Flood in Crooked Creek
AVCP RHA’s Special Project and Facilities has been working alongside Ron Hoffman, CEO and President of AVCP RHA and other agencies to respond promptly to the Crooked Creek flood disaster in the spring of 2011. The flood was the worst flood in the history of Crooked Creek. Prioritizing help for the people in need of temporary shelter in the stricken village was taken seriously without hesitation. All projects elsewhere were put on hold to take care of our people first in Crooked Creek. Six AVCP RHA units in Crooked Creek were affected by the high waters and boulders of ice that had bulldozed along the river’s edge pushed by the strong current and had caused damages to the homes. Another 18 private homes were also affected.
“We employed a total of eight local workers to repair the exterior and interior of the AVCP RHA homes,” Hoffman said. “At this point, they are waiting for materials to arrive by barge and the project will commence immediately. At their last meeting, the Board of Commissioners made a special appropriation of $500 thousand to assist with the disaster.”
FEMA, the State of Alaska and Cold Climate are working to assist the other private homeowners.
AVCP RHA is implementing a weatherization grant program from the Alaska Housing Finance Corporation. The funding for the program is appropriated by the State Legislature and has been used to weatherize AVCP RHA Current Assisted Stock (CAS) housing units and privately-owned homes in our region for the past four years. This fiscal year, the weatherization program will be in 12 communities - Bethel, Crooked Creek, Chuathbaluk, Eek, Hooper Bay, Napakiak, Nunapitchuk, Marshall, Stony River &
Upper Kalskag with a total of 204 homes projected to be weatherized.
The goal of the weatherization program is to complete the assigned number of homes serving the high priority clients first as funding and logistics allow and at the same time to minimize residential energy consumption in each community. This benefits the home owner and also provides economic opportunities at the local and regional level for our people in this region.
The weatherization crew – from the Field Project Supervisor, Carpenters, Electricians, & Laborers, etc. – are all hired locally and within the region that have work experience and certificate in certain trades in the construction industry. AVCP Regional Housing Authority implements weatherization grant programs under the Force Account method that generates and infuses economic opportunities and jobs within our region.
“Next year, we will be in Pitka’s Point, Aniak, Sleetmute, Mt. Village, Emmonak, Scammon Bay, Alakanuk, Nightmute & Nunam Iqua,” Hoffman said. “The weatherization application process for clients in those villages will start this fall in October.
For this year’s project, we have AVCP RHA job applications in each community at the local tribal council offices of these villages.”
Apprenticeship Training Program
“We continue to have the Work Experience and Builder Maintenance Repairer programs on our projects creating more experience and opportunities for future employment for our participants,” Hoffman added. “This year, the Alaska Works Partnership and AVCP RHA staff has selected 10 participants from Kwigillingok, Kongiganak and Tuntutuliak for the BMR training program. Their training started in May of this year and will continue on throughout the year as they earn while they learn.”
Success Story by Weatherization Staff
Peter Atchak is a well known person in our small town of Bethel. He is the head of the Bethel Search and Rescue that looks for lost or missing people throughout the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta. He and others have found and rescued many people, in which they are forever blessed to share his company. Peter has done other volunteer work for Bethel, such as teaching the youth about safety and the dangers of traveling. He is becoming a valued elder, full of wisdom and knowledge.
Peter’s home is an older ASHA house that was constructed in the late 60’s. It is a very basic home with original single-pane windows, bent and cracked doors, broken down boiler, no ventilation, and worn out or damaged insulation in the attic and floor. Peter would tell us that his home was very drafty and cold in the winters, and that the boiler sometimes would not work forcing him to use his wood stove. He spoke about his very high energy bills and the amount of fuel he is burning. With every word he spoke you could hear the disappointment in his voice.
The work that we were able to do to his home turned the house around. We gave him all new double pane windows and brought the bedrooms windows up-to-code, and two new exterior doors. We blow filled his floor, wrapped the home with Tyvek, installed inch and a half foam board, and T1-11. We put a range hood and a bath fan in Peter’s home for better ventilation and clean air. We blow-filled R-38 in the attic, Installed 3 smoke detectors, 1 carbon-monoxide detector, and a Fire extinguisher for health and safety reasons. We air-sealed the home to help with heat loss and the home air leakage went down by 200 cubic feet per minute after weatherization was completed.
Since the weatherization work has taken place, Peter has been so happy with his home. He had nothing but great things to say about the work. He mentioned how much warmer the house is, how he doesn’t have to worry about his boiler breaking down in the middle of winter, how the doors shut and do not leak air. I noticed when he was speaking about the house there was happiness and satisfaction in his voice. He was very happy about the ventilation that he now has in his home, and the importance of having clean air. Also, how clean the windows looked, Peter said with a laugh.
He was very appreciative and humbled with the weatherization work that has been serviced to his home. He said, “Nothing comes free in this world and I am very grateful and blessed to have this happen to me. Good things do come back around for people who are patient.”
Peter Atchak is a valuable asset in our community: he was recently given the 2011 Yukegtaar Award, an award the community of Bethel gives to people who contribute greatly to the good of the community.