The first time our team visited Nacajuca, Mexico, was in 2018. At the time, we didn’t know it would one day become one of the most innovative communities in the world.
While we were there, we met families who had to be resourceful to stay afloat, now humbled at the prospect of receiving a home. They warmly welcomed us into their home. One mother wiped tears away as she told us about her home flooding monthly due to its proximity to the river. As she described the snakes and spiders that got inside her home after a storm, we listened.
Beyond flooding that both brought critters into their homes and mosquito-borne diseases, overcrowding is a big issue with these families.
In one instance, a family of six members squeezed in one room. Another family shared their one-bedroom space with 10 family members. This overcrowding can lead to negative physical and mental health on top of reduced quality of life outcomes.
Today, 65 of these families have a safe home to call their own.
The De la Cruz Arias Family
One of those families is Viviana and her two children, Alina and Luis Santiago. After her husband passed away, this family of three hasn’t had a permanent home — often staying in cramped apartments or sharing a room while they struggled to get back on their feet.
Now Alina and Luis Santiago can attend school not too far from their new Ecoblock home, and Viviana has easy access to a grocery store and the amenities in downtown Nacajuca. They’re mostly excited to make friends with their neighbors within the community.
A Hub for Innovation
This is a community of strength, hope, and opportunity. This community has three primary innovations used throughout:
- 3D printing: This technology from ICON enables homes to be printed in a fraction of the time and is proving what is possible within construction technology.
- Ecoblocks: This compressed earth block technology uses 90% local earth and only 10% cement. The primarily raw earth material reduces the CO2 production drastically.
- Coolroofs: This simple paint achieves both waterproofing and heat-deflecting technology to decrease indoor temperatures of the homes.
It is a community that never would have happened without the tremendous support of so many.
We have been blown away by the support, patience, and perseverance of those involved in contributing financially to 3D printing as well as the community of Nacajuca. Special thanks to:
- The Huber family: You were the first ones to believe in the future of what this technology could do for our work. We can’t wait for you to continue to see the impact of innovation on those who need it most.
- Tony Robbins and the Tony Robbins Foundation: From our first conversation you have championed the intersection of life-change and innovation. We are so grateful for the support of this project.
- World Housing supporters: Thank you for taking a chance on a new idea in an environment far away from home! Families’ lives are changed forever because of you.
- New Story Builders: We are united by a shared vision for the future of our world. You make it possible for us to take the big swings – from 3D printing homes to creating an entirely new financing model designed for the families we serve. Thank you for your unwavering belief and investment in our vision and our team.
- New Story supporters who contributed to this project. There are too many of you to list by name but we know who each of you are and are so grateful for all you have done to support bringing this community to life.
This project was enabled by some of the hardest working humans in the game.
- ICON: What you have enabled is truly incredible. Your technology, team, and commitment to serving vulnerable populations in the US and abroad is inspiring. We are so grateful for you taking a chance on a nonprofit for your first project!
- Echale: We’ve worked on more than eight projects together and each one just keeps getting better. Our work in Mexico is only possible because of your partnership, commitment to families, and passion for the work. Thank you for continuing to help us push forward wild ideas to get more families into safe homes.
- Secretary of Wellbeing and Climate Change of the State of Tabasco: Thank you for your dedication and trust. We appreciate your enthusiasm to provide funding for the street pavement and street lighting for the community, as well as the access to water and electricity.
- State of Tabasco Housing Institute (INVITAB): Thank you for providing subsidies for 55 homes.
- Municipal government of Nacajuca: Thank you for your patience and eagerness to provide land and its readiness for construction, and assistance to identify the most needy families in Nacajuca.
Despite the menacing rain clouds, the sun came out for the move-in ceremony in Nacajuca that day in early November. After many pandemic delays, the moment was finally here. Confetti rained down instead as families couldn’t wipe the smiles off their faces as they opened the doors to their houses for the first time.
And now, 65 families have the chance to make this house into a home.