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Tiny homes examined as housing solution

BETHEL (AP) — A regional fisheries organization is examining tiny homes as a solution to the housing shortage in western Alaska.

The Coastal Villages Region Fund has constructed a 320-square-foot (30-square-meter) energy efficient home in the village of Eek to test whether tiny homes could address the area's housing crisis, KYUK-AM reported .

The home has a bedroom, a bathroom and a common area serving as the living room and kitchen, said Bob Marquez, the organization's products and services manager.

The Coastal Villages Region Fund is the offshore fisheries community development quota holder for 20 communities in the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta region. In a survey earlier this year, the organization asked area residents about their biggest challenges. Nearly a third of people surveyed said housing.

The Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta area needs about 3,000 new homes, but fewer than 30 are built each year, according to housing assessment by the state Housing Finance Corporation. Most of the area's new homebuilding is funded by federal funding through the regional housing authority.

A federally funded home typically costs about $200 per month for the homeowner, according to organization's research. The organization looked into what mortgages individual homebuyers could afford if they also qualified for federal funds and grants from the organization.

"We were really just trying to show that mortgages were possible," Marquez said.

Marquez said they worked back from the $200 a month, landing on an overall cost about $75,000. That translated into the 320-square-foot house.

The organization is looking to create a model for coastal communities to use to increase housing.