Two new prototype homes, one designed for the state's wind-beaten coast and one for the Arctic, will be built in remote villages this summer as researchers look for low-cost answers to the housing crunch in rural Alaska.
In rainy Quinhagak, where a recent report found that dozens of 1970s-era houses may be rotting and potentially unsafe to live in, the village plans to build an easy-to-heat, eight-sided home meant to resemble traditional Yup'ik dwellings.
The three-bedroom house could cut energy bills by 50 percent and cost as little as $200,000 to build, according to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Cold Climate Housing Research Center.
A Fairbanks-based nonprofit, the research center designed both the test homes at the request of villages and housing authorities and with direction from village residents. The expected price for the Quinhagak home is roughly half the cost of other recent houses built in the Western Alaska village, the center says.
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