kivalina 2

Ownership Structures

The following section is focused on the ownership-structure in Kivalina. According to the 2010 census, 374 people are living in Kivalina in 99 houses, of which 85 are in use; in 2012 we counted 112 houses in the village. The housing units are located on the southern end of the peninsula, because the landfill and the airport (property of the state) to the North do not allow room for community expansion. Two streets, Channel and Bering, run through Kivalina and there is plenty of natural gravel covering the village’s surface because of the sod eroding away over the last decades as a result of people driving over the grass. As residents mostly live on low or no income, they fund their houses through public housing programs. In the past, B.I.A. were responsible for the housing in Kivalina, apparently then the housing authority Northwest Inupiat Housing Association was in charge until 1999. The NIHA program was an applications based grant program which often resulted in a long processes of being rejected and resending the forms again. People mostly “rent to own” their houses; they eventually own their houses and then also pass them on to their children and relatives. You have to first qualify through being of Inupiat origin and having a low income (see rental assistance program) in order for NWIHA to give you a positive answer on your application, middle class needs to inherit. You have to pay 15 years of mortgage to NWIHA as an administrative fee, until you finally own the house. NAHASDA (The Native America Housing assistance & Self Determination Act) is the 1996 program, the one block grant committed to the task of tribal housing of the Hud (US Department of Housing and Urban Development); NWIHA was at that time hired through NAHASDA. The native village of Kivalina broke away from NWIHA in the late 90s in order to start their own housing program administered by the tribal council. The tribal council – the IRA – then started receiving the NAHASDA funds directly. Fundings are available for construction, rehabilitation, etc. In 2012 the tribal council offered tribal members a two bedroom addition or a living room addition. The size of these additions is regulated. The city office organizes the spacial structure of Kivalina, which is divided in lots. At the moment all the lots are assigned, there are no lots available. The average house in Kivalina costs an estimated 270.000 $ (material, labour, with everything covered), this means approximately 400 $ per square footage at the moment. Today you would get a 100% grant. The first housing units, replacing the traditional sodhouse, were built around about 1970s, some were built by construction companies such as “JOMACS” and “Ashe”, the middle aged and the newer house fundings came from the NWIHA, some houses were built by homeowners. The construction companies transport the prefab construction on barges and send in people to manage the project and hire locals. They use “Davis Bacon“-wage-schedule to pay the local hire. Houses can also be sold for cash. Apparently, as long as the house is not fully payed for, the public housing program doesn’t allow people to adapt their homes and make changes, although, as one of the tennants adds, “I’d love to add a couple of bedrooms to have more intimacy.” Generally, more space is urgently needed, the lack of it also being a troublesome issue regarding the social structure. The residents are mostly organized in multi-generation families, up to 15 people are living in one house with only at an average 2-3 bedrooms. Privacy is very often sought after, although being with the family and community is very important to the people of Kivalina and is expected to be a large part of the everyday life.

An estimated 30% of the people in Kivalina own allotments in the village’s nearby aerea. These allotments are not in control of NANA.

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