Albuquerque, New Mexico - October 21, 2011
Contact: Jorge Palombo, Chief Operations Officer
Native American Housing Consultants, LLC, 8308 Washington Street, N.E., Albuquerque, New Mexico 87113
Phone: 505-797-8674/ Fax: 505-797-8658 / Website: www.nmnahc.com
AN INNOVATIVE APPROACH TO MEETING TRIBAL/RURAL HOUSING NEEDS
Throughout rural America, and particularly on Tribal lands, many homes lack appropriate bathroom facilities to meet the needs of individuals with disabilities or of growing families. This often leads to elders and people with disabilities losing their ability to live independently or to unsanitary conditions brought about by overcrowding.
Native American Housing Consultants, LLC (NAHC), an Albuquerque-based Indian-owned business, has developed an innovative and affordable modular bathroom addition to meet these needs in rural communities. This self-contained unit can be transported and attached to an existing home, whether on Tribal lands or privately-owned or rented homes by non-Native people. According to Andrea Schneider, a Navajo Nation member and NAHC’s President, “This inventive unit meets local building codes and has been approved and licensed by the Construction Industries Division of the State of New Mexico’s Regulation and Licensing Department and can be built to meet Americans with Disability Act (ADA) Standards.” The units are built at NAHC’s Albuquerque worksite and transported to rural areas.
This ground-breaking 8 foot x 14 foot affordable bathroom addition contains an ADA-accessible Tub/Shower, Commode and Sink. A Hot Water Heater, Electrical Wiring and Outlets, Plumbing, and Insulation - meeting standard codes – are also included in the basic bathroom. Further, the unit can be retrofitted with solar panels where affordable alternative energy is a concern or where electric service may not be available. Once attached to the existing home, the bathroom is ready for use.
Jorge Palombo, NAHC’s Chief Operations Officer, noted that this approach is a “Response to the need for handicapped-accessible and additional bathrooms that came out of NAHC’s direct work with Tribal housing rehabilitation and new construction programs over the past 14 years.” He explained that NAHC had worked with Tribal housing officials to modify bathrooms of individuals with disabilities, helping to ensure residents remain in their homes, rather than go to outside nursing facilities. “The cost of housing modification rose sharply over the past decade while funds for housing rehab decreased, so fewer homes have been improved as elders go to facilities.” NAHC has also found that with little new housing construction on Tribal lands, many homes are now multigenerational and need additional bathroom facilities to prevent some of the health threats brought about by overcrowding.
NAHC can make these units available to Tribal Housing Programs and individuals at about half the cost of bathrooms being modified or built on-site. With these bathrooms designed and tested, NAHC is now working on plans to create modular kitchens and bedrooms with closets that will be ready for use, if a family has outgrown their home. NAHC welcomes inquiries into these exciting approaches to improving rural housing.