“A huge step forward.”

For a family struggling to get by, basic shelter can make all the difference.

Having a solid roof overhead protects families from extreme weather. Doors and windows that lock keep families safe from crime. And having a concrete floor underfoot keeps families healthy, which means children are more likely to attend school and parents are better able to provide for them.

Basic shelter is essential to family wellbeing. And for the past eleven years, that’s what we have been focused on providing: a simple, affordable house that (in many cases) can even be constructed over the course of a few days.

We remain committed to providing basic shelter for families that lack adequate housing. But now, with your support, we’re able to do even more.

This January in Mexico, after years of careful research and dialogue with our stakeholders, we introduced a new and improved house model using a material called FastBloc. This new house design will impact families not just today but for generations to come.

A house that protects vulnerable families from weather, crime, and disease is a crucial first step. But now, by introducing a house that will hold or even gain value over time, families have a chance to attain something even better: home equity.

Image: Natanael and Karla carry the new FastBloc building material as they work on their home.

Karla and Natanael have been married for 14 years and have three children. They live in Puerto Peñasco with Natanael’s elderly father, Felipe, who is confined to a wheelchair after decades of backbreaking work as a fisherman. To provide for their family, Natanael works as a mason and Karla cleans houses.

They have been living on a land lot they own, but their old house was cramped and in poor condition. For a family of this size, the small living space left them crowded, without privacy and with little protection from the elements. And as the years have gone by, the house’s condition has only gotten worse.

But now all of this has changed. As one of the first families to earn a FastBloc house through 1MISSION, this extended family now has room to breathe. And Karla and Natanael have peace of mind, knowing their children will have a secure future in a home of their own.

“My family and I are overjoyed,” says Karla. “For us, this house is a great blessing. It’s something big for us since we wouldn’t have been able to build it so quickly by ourselves. My children are comfortable here and we are all grateful to you and to God, most of all. When you come to visit, this is now your home too.”

On a recent Saturday, neighbors gathered with the family and 1MISSION staff for a house dedication ceremony.

The new house model is built using FastBloc, a polystyrene material (think styrofoam) that is filled with concrete and reinforced with steel rebar. After the wood truss roof is in place the exterior walls are coated with several layers of a special coating and then a final acrylic texture.

While these new houses cost more and take longer to produce, the payoff is enormous.

“The new house model is a huge step forward,” says Pedro Tapia, 1MISSION’s Mexico Country Director. “The new material is better quality and is much more energy efficient. These families gain access to equity and are able to take out loans. We also get to spend more time with these families. We get to know them better, they get more energized and encouraged, and they learn about community development.”

Image: The early stages of Karla and Natanael’s house. The concrete foundation has been laid, steel rebar installed, and FastBloc walls are beginning to go up.

Image: Even though FastBloc is lightweight, it is safe, durable, and energy-efficient. These are a few of the factors that make the new house model better for families.

In addition to improved home equity, the new house model provides excellent insulation against extreme temperatures and is built to better withstand hurricanes, earthquakes, and fires. And because FastBloc has a factory in Puerto Peñasco, we will continue to purchase our materials in the communities where we build, providing jobs and supporting the local economy.

Image: A look inside the FastBloc factory in Puerto Peñasco, Mexico. By purchasing building supplies locally, we support the local economy.

Just as before, families earn these houses by serving their neighbors through locally-led initiatives like sewing classes, community gardens, and construction projects. To account for the added value these new houses represent, local leaders have decided to increase the number of community service hours each family earns to 300 or 400, depending on the size of the house. In all of this, families are empowered and local communities are strengthened.

You can help more families like Karla and Natanael achieve the dream of living in a safe, secure home.


Add yours
  1. James Uhley

    I would like to see a comparison of the costs of building homes with this new process. How many man hours does it take to build a house the old way versus the new way? When we came in February to build the new way, we were the fourth group to work on the house and 1Mission thought two more groups would be needed to finish it. How much money does it take to build a house the old way and how much for the new way? It is clear that the quality of the house it better but if it takes 3 to 5 times as many groups and therefore 3 to 5 times as much money as each group member pays $250 to participate, I question the decision to go to the new way is good stewardship. Adding electrical, drywall and plumbing to the old model, might be a more cost effective choice.

    • Greg Yochim

      Hi James.

      Thanks for your questions. We’ve had similar questions from other people as well which we anticipated prior to making this change.

      The cost for materials for the new house model is approximately twice the cost of the old model. There are good reasons for that. The new house model is about 60% larger and, as you indicated, the quality is much better. We expect that once teams have more experience with the new house model it will take four weekends to complete a house compared to one weekend for the old model.

      The additional labor being invested is part of what contributes to the added value, or equity, for the family. For the families that we serve in this community, as well as others, one of the greatest hindrances to future growth is the lack of any measurable assets. We believe this new house model will provide that asset.

      For us, good stewardship means making the biggest impact with the resources that we have. This can be challenging, especially when it is long term impact that is our focus. We are always monitoring and evaluating our programs which is what led to us make this change. It also brought the homes in this community more in line with the type of houses we were already building in other communities in Mexico, Nicaragua and El Salvador.

      If you would like to discuss in more detail or have other questions, please email blog@1MISSION.org.

  2. Gary Loutzenheiser

    As I look at the new home compared to the 3 day build, I enjoyed the quick build and turning over a shell to the families. That was me thinking of my satisfaction, not necessarily the best for the families. After going to Nicaragua two years ago and being part of the build with the Women of CHE, I realized a better build was in the offering. Thus, I am very pleased with the new building, the materials and quality. Yes, we didn’t get to finish it in three days but we are moving in the right direction. Thanks1Mission for the thought and prep that went into this change. We all know that change is the only constant, yet we resist it everyday. May God continue to bless this mission.

  3. Melissa

    This new house model is such an investment on everyone’s part! I am so glad to see the concept come to fruition and witness first hand how it embraces CHE principles and when I stop to think of the impact on the community, I find myself overwhelmed with the possibilities. Not just because of the house, but knowing that this new build provides an opportunity for each home recipient to have more exposure to learn about CHE & become involved in their community instead of just being a passive recipient. Keep up the good work 1MISSION! We love you and count ourselves as very fortunate to get to partner with you and the communities of Rocky Point.

  4. Mat Miller

    I love this ministry. At times, I’ve felt guilty as we’re building knowing that I’d never put my own family in what we offered these families that live only a few hours away. I’m excited at the thought of doing what we can to offer them substantially more. Thanks Greg and Merle, and the whole 1Mission team. Looking forward to joining you this fall and being a part of changing lives and building community.

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