At the summit, housing organizations discuss projects and resources for Bristol Bay

Like much of rural Alaska, Bristol Bay needs more housing. Just last fall, several new Dillingham teachers began the school year by sleeping in classrooms because they couldn’t find places to stay. At last week’s sustainability summit, the Bristol Bay Housing Authority and the Alaska Housing Finance Corporation presented some of their efforts to build more affordable housing.

Housing Authority Executive Director Brenda Akelkok provided an overview of housing projects in the region, including authority construction projects and financing resources for local communities. Akelkok outlined several of their current developments, including 10 houses in Manokotak that they built with money from the American Rescue Plan and Cares Act, and two housing projects in Twin Hills and Port Heiden, which were funded through the Block Grant. for Indian Community Development.

Akelkok stressed the need for increased funding, not just for home construction, but also for weatherization, renovating homes to withstand the Alaskan climate. She said weatherization ensures a home is insulated and energy efficient and allows families to save on utility bills.

The housing authority also helps people transition to new and updated housing. In Kokhanok, Akelkok said the authority has moved five families into new energy-efficient units.

“When we build a house, we get money from the state of Alaska (and) from the Alaska Housing Finance Corporation,” he said. “They call it the ‘Supplemental Grant.’ That requires us to meet the state’s building energy efficiency standards.”

The Alaska Housing Finance Corporation and the Department of Energy fund the housing authority’s weatherization efforts. But Akelkok said the area needs more financial support; the Department of Energy offers about $2,000 per home, but it typically takes about $75,000 to make a home weatherproof.

Akelkok also encouraged tribes to apply for the Bureau of Indian Affairs’ Home Improvement Program, calling it a way to bring more money to the region for family housing. The housing authority plans to hire 10 new staff members to help complete and submit applications for local communities.

Alaska Housing Finance Corporation director of planning and program development Daniel Delfino gave a virtual presentation at the summit. He discussed funding programs, including construction assistance and affordable services for the homeless. Delfino highlighted the Greater Opportunities for Affordable Living Program, calling it “a one-stop-shop for communities to apply to develop rental housing.” He also referred to the state and federally funded Housing Program for Teachers, Health Professionals and Public Safety, which helps finance housing for teachers, medical personnel and administrators in rural communities.

With questions and for more information, you can contact the Bristol Bay Area Housing Authority and the Alaska Housing Finance Corporation.


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