Zuni Housing Needs Assessment & Inventory: Mobile Data Collection

This important project aims to provide the Zuni Housing Authority (ZHA) with a powerful data management system to manage information on the current state of housing at Zuni. This is urgently needed for the tribe and ZHA to understand living conditions, plan for needed repairs and additional housing, and advocate for increased funding to complete projects needed by the Zuni people. The effort has already been recognized by Enterprise Community Partners as a best practices model for tribal nations and other communities needing to have real data on the status of their housing.



We are pleased to announce we have hired three Zuni tribal members to assist us in our assessments: Lee Lucio, Angela Yatsayte, and Sherry Bellson. They will be spending the next five months visiting homes throughout the reservation. The assessors are utilizing iPad tablets to record the survey information, documenting exterior conditions, interior conditions, and resident information.

Several pueblos have recently completed similar inventory and assessment initiatives of traditional villages as a component of preservation and rehabilitation planning efforts. AOS has had the pleasure of being involved in a number of these efforts which have resulted in new self-determined planning approaches and significant renovation projects. Our planning efforts at Ohkay Owingeh have been widely recognized. In much of our previous work conducting comprehensive housing assessments for other tribes, we realized the challenge of uploading paper surveys to digital databases and keeping this data current. In recent years, technological developments have created new opportunities for tribes to create robust Geographic Information System (GIS) applications to record and map real-time data in the field that can be easily managed and updated. 

Seeing the potential of these initiatives to empower tribal housing authorities with the latest tablet-based survey technology, the mobile app being utilized at Zuni was developed following a pilot project funded through a National Park Service 2016 Historic Preservation Fund (HPF) Underrepresented Communities Grant Project (UCGP). Under this initial grant, AOS Architects partnered with the State of New Mexico Historic Preservation Division (“NM-HPD”) in an effort to develop a mobile phone application that enables tribes to create a self-determined means of inventorying and assessing buildings within the traditional villages of the nineteen Pueblos in New Mexico. The mobile app was developed by Miriam Diddy, AICAE, planner at AOS Architects, utilizing the Fulcrum platform. It was first piloted at Pueblo de San Ildefonso in September 2016 and presented to regional tribal representatives, including several Tribal Historic Preservation Offices (THPO), at the “2016 Tribal Symposium” organized under the grant program. A final report of the app’s design, functions, and potential was also generated and provided to the 19 Pueblo Nations, the National Park Service, New Mexico State Historic Preservation Office, and the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation.

Being readily customizable, the mobile app is now being advanced at Zuni in an innovative approach undertaken by ZHA to complete comprehensive home assessments, far beyond the limits of the traditional Middle Village. This app will enable citizens and local community members to become engaged in community planning through modern data collection as a tool to further the resiliency of the Zuni people. While the project is still in its early stages, there is great excitement at Zuni to share and expand this database with other tribal departments to self-examine the relationships between housing quality, health, education, and countless other tribal initiatives.

AOS and our new Zuni employees recently participated in the 12th Annual Zuni Housing Fair this past September 15th to offer community members more information and awareness on the ongoing project. AOS presented the pilot app at several conferences this past June including the “Culture and Climate Resiliency Tribal VISTA Program” under AmeriCorps and the Enterprise Community Foundation, and the annual conference of the American Indian Council of Architects and Engineers (AICAE).


Shawn Evans explaining differential settlement and indicators of foundation problems to Angel, Lee, and Sherry.