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Brad Pitt Foundation Homes Arrive On Reservation
by Richard Peterson - Great Falls Tribune
The first five of 20 Make It Right homes are being laid on their concrete foundations in Poplar this week. The homes are part of a sustainable village project. (photo by Richard Peterson for the Great Falls Tribune)

Poplar, MT – The first five of 20 eco-friendly modular homes arrived on the Fort Peck Indian Reservation and are being set on their foundations this week.

Founded by actor Brad Pitt, the Make It Right foundation and the Fort Peck Tribes are hoping to have the first five families moved into their new homes by Aug. 1. Plans are to have the entire housing project filled by Dec. 1.

The homes, built in Washington state, are being laid down in a sustainable village project on the old Poplar airport site. They are built from state-of-the art recycled materials and are LEED Platinum standard, foundation officials said.

The tribes are in the process of preselecting the tenants to live in the homes and conducted a lottery system among the 127 applicants. The tenants will ultimately be able to own the homes.

"We've had a fantastic application run and are now working on certification (of residents)," said Deb Madison, a board member of the tribes' company, Integrated Solutions. The company is the developer of the homes, which were designed by foundation architects with input from Assiniboine and Sioux tribal members.

Eighteen of the homes are being trucked in, and two octagon-shaped homes will be constructed on-site.

Each Make It Right home was built with state-of-the-art materials and meet the LEED Platinum Standard, foundation officials said. Actor Brad Pitt founded Make It Right, which has also built homes in neighborhoods in New Orleans, New Jersey and Missouri. (photo by Richard Peterson for the Great Falls Tribune)

There are several styles of houses and, with transportation, the cost per house is around $235,000, Madison said. The tribes are doing $2 million to $3 million in infrastructure work, including installing roads and sewer and water lines, she said.

The foundation and the tribes have been working on the project for more than two years. Make It Right has also built homes in New Orleans' Ninth Ward after Hurricane Katrina destroyed much of the neighborhood in 2005.

The homes are 75 percent more energy efficient than a regular home, and owners will see a direct impact on their utility bills, which are expected to not exceed more than $60 a month in the winter.

"Each home has a fireplace. That's what the community asked for," said Brian Abramson, co-founder of Method Homes, the Ferndale, Wash., company that built and shipped the 18 modular homes. "They're super-insulated and no toxic chemicals were used in the paint, adhesives and finishes."

The Kohler Co. provided the plumbing supplies and Shaw Flooring chipped in with their products. The homes built with the materials far exceeds the standards of any low-income government home, foundation officials said.

The tribes are completing work on the water and sewer lines and Montana Dakota Utilities is hooking up the electricity and gas lines. MDU is also considering the construction of a solar farm in the area, which would be the only one in Montana if built, Madison said.

Method Homes completed the first Make It Right home in May and trucked it to the Dwell on Design conference in Los Angeles in late May. The conference, sponsored by Dwell magazine, is America's largest design event and features designs with cutting-edge technology.

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