Community Rebuilds Founder Emily Niehaus. [Courtesy photo]

After 15 years of work on developing and leading Community Rebuilds, founder Emily Niehaus is moving on.

“Back in 2004, people told me my idea was way too complicated,” Niehaus said in a press release on Jan. 13. “But I kept dreaming and developing a plan to building affordable, energy-efficient housing while utilizing a student education program to offset the cost of construction and train young emerging professionals. Now, having just completed its 36th project, Community Rebuilds is in a beautiful place of stability and growth with an experienced team in place. It’s time for me to move on and enjoy my time as a mom and Moab’s Mayor.”

Niehaus came up with the idea of Community Rebuilds after seeing the need to replace dilapidated trailers with affordable housing in Moab.  

Inspired by local natural builders Doni Kiffmeyer and Kaki Hunter, Niehaus moved the idea forward and developed a partnership with USDA RD (U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development) to provide low-interest rate loans for qualifying homeowners who wished to help build their own affordable, energy-efficient home.

Several years of planning and development led to Community Rebuilds constructing its first home in Moab in 2010. At the end of 2018, Community Rebuilds has constructed 36 projects in total; twenty-seven homes in Moab; three homes in Gunnison County, Colorado; one pilot build in Bluff; as well as four homes on the Hopi Reservation through a partnership with Hopi Tutskwa Permaculture.

In addition, a brand-new Moab campus will house the student interns and the organization’s office in Moab.

Rikki Epperson, who has been the program director of Community Rebuilds since 2015, has been designated as acting executive director.

“I’m looking forward to this next chapter with Community Rebuilds and am excited for the challenge to take on the executive director position and lead the team to continue our mission,” Epperson said.

Rikki Epperson will begin serving as Community Rebuilds’ acting executive director

About Community Rebuilds: Community Rebuilds’ mission is to build energy-efficient housing, provide education on sustainability, and improve the housing conditions of the workforce through an affordable program. Visit our website at