In a first-of-its-kind partnership, the Navajo Nation has awarded a total of $74 million in grants to ZenniHome, a producer of sustainable, affordable factory-made homes using high-quality materials based in Page, Arizona.

The grants include $50 million from the Navajo Nation’s Community Housing and Infrastructure Department to provide a minimum of 250 ZenniHome units to high-need residents across the Navajo Nation. Additionally, $24 million from the American Rescue Plan Act will be used to expand ZenniHome’s production at the former Navajo Generating Station site by building a second factory to address the critical housing need and stimulate economic development on the Navajo Nation.

“I expect this to create the highest-producing housing factory in the world,” said Navajo Nation President Buu Nygren. “It will enable ZenniHome to begin to manufacture more than 25 homes a day once the factory expansion is completed by the end of 2025. … These homes will be built on Navajo, by Navajo and for Navajo.”

An American Rescue Plan (ARPA) grant will help ZenniHome to secure $36 million in additional financing to complete the project, which will help create 500 direct jobs and approximately 5,000 indirect jobs. ZenniHome currently employs 135 Navajo workers.

A 2011 Navajo Nation Housing Report commissioned by the Navajo Housing Authority found that 90 percent of all Navajo Nation housing were in need of replacement or major repairs. The Nation needs as many as 34,100 new homes to meet demand, according to the Navajo Housing Authority assessment, which conducted the survey in 2009. However, this number is likely higher with the increase in tribal enrollment, the time that has passed since the survey and other factors such as the pandemic. The report also stated that more than 34,300 existing homes were in need of repairs.

“ZenniHome is committed to addressing the housing crisis within the Navajo Nation head-on,” said ZenniHome CEO and Founder Bob Worsley. “This partnership will ensure that every family has access to quality, affordable and lasting homes.”

Navajo Nation and ZenniHome are committed to collaborate on further future housing initiatives focused on the Navajo-Hopi Land Commission, veterans and transitional housing for those overcoming opioid addiction.

This first-of-its-kind public-private partnership between the Navajo Nation and ZenniHome underscores a mutual commitment to building a substantial new industry to export from the Navajo Nation. Among the key benefits of this partnership for the Navajo people are priority access to the factory’s output of housing units, substantial tax revenue from home sales, business lease payments and priority pricing for the Navajo Nation and individual Navajos.

Nygren called the partnership “a significant step forward to achieve our 1,000-home initiative,” which includes affordable housing, economic empowerment, job creation and more. The new ZenniHome plant employs Navajo workers from across the region, with a daily shuttle service from Tuba City. ZenniHome employees commute from the following Navajo Nation chapters: Tuba City, Kaibeto, Bodaway-Gap, Tonalea, Coppermine, Shonto, LeChee, Inscription House, Kayenta, Black Mesa, Cove and Navajo Mountain.

“By working together with ZenniHome, we are not just building homes,” said Nygren. “We are promoting a more sustainable future for the Navajo Nation where every citizen has access to affordable, quality housing and the promise of economic growth and stability.” 

The grant will help fund an expansion ZenniHome's factory in Page, Arizona. It will create employment for Navajos, both directly at the factory and indirectly through related industries. 

Benefits to the Navajo Nation include:

  • Affordable Housing. ZenniHome’s innovative housing solutions are priced below $200,000 for a turnkey 3-bedroom home that includes water, sewer, electricity and basic appliances. Alternative homes built by other organizations cost $400-$650K for turnkey homes.
  • Manufacturing jobs for Navajo workers.ZenniHome will explore sub-assembly manufacturing opportunities across the five Navajo agencies to spread jobs and economic benefits throughout Navajo Nation. There will be priority production line time for Navajo Nation projects to ensure timely access to housing.
  • Collaboration on Opioid Addiction Remediation. The project includes a commitment to collaborate on housing initiatives focused on the Navajo-Hopi Land Commission, veterans, and transitional housing for those overcoming opioid addiction.
  • Off-grid options. The project will provide water, internet, sewer and electricity for homes too far from existing utility connections.
  • Training Center. The project will establish an installer training center at the former Navajo Generating Station site for nationwide Navajo installer training programs.
  • Mobile ZenniHome Models. The project will deploy several mobile ZenniHome models at events across Navajo Nation, including fairs to showcase housing options and public tours across all five agencies of the Navajo Nation.
  • Down payment assistance. The project will pioneer housing assistance for down payments of mortgages for Navajo Nation market rate buyers.

ZenniHome takes a unique, pioneering approach to manufactured housing. Utilizing state-of-the-art technology and sustainable design principles, ZenniHome builds steel-framed houses with robotic walls and furniture. Its one-bedroom home is priced at $90K, its two-bedroom starts at $125K, and 3 bedroom below $200K. ZenniHomes can be moved to the building site via a flatbed trailer of a semi-truck. They are also stackable, which is ideal for developers building multifamily projects because it allows units to be stacked up to five stories high.

The Navajo Nation is the largest Native American territory in the United States, with a rich culture, history and community. It spans three states and encompasses more than 27,000 square miles. The Navajo government works to preserve its heritage while fostering an environment of growth and opportunity. Navajo Nation president Dr. Buu Nygren was elected to lead the Navajo Nation in 2022. 

Share this article
The link has been copied!