Highly-Johansen Houses – Framed Homes Built in a Weekend

4/17/12 – 1/1/13

Tragic Inspiration Remembering Baby Nikol

On the 1st of January 2013, 8-month old baby Nikol Osuna froze to death in the barrios of Agua Prieta. This is not an uncommon event as extreme temperatures range from summer highs of 115° to winter lows of –4° F. In cardboard shacks with no access to electricity or insulated building materials, the poor suffer the worst.

When long-time Rancho Feliz volunteer/donor Highly Falkner heard the news, he found it unconscionable. He asked himself, “What kind of a society indulges itself in countless comforts and privileges while at the same time allowing children to freeze to death a mere four-hour drive away?” He made a pledge to end this immoral unbalance.

Highly was an avid cyclist. Tragically, in 2014 he was hit by an impaired driver and killed. Rancho Feliz reeled at the irreplaceable loss. His absence is strongly felt to this day.

In an effort to honor his unique spirit and perpetuate his good works, Rancho Feliz donors and volunteers have rallied to continue the “Highly House” tradition. Currently 5 to 6 Highly Houses are built each year.

Homes Built in 2½ Days!

Highly designed an affordable and insulated home, recruited family and friends and soon “Highly Houses” began popping up all around the slums of Agua Prieta.

View More Highly House Photos

These volunteers are not rookies. Most are in the construction trade. They travel from Arizona, Utah, Colorado and reaches beyond. These are 2-bedroom, 1-bath, 400-sq ft homes with a kitchen, family room and covered porch.

To avoid problems at the border, building materials are pre-purchased in México and delivered on-site. Large construction tools such as generators, compressors, power saws, ladders, nail guns, etc. are provided by Rancho Feliz.

Initially a slab is poured. Two weeks later the construction volunteers arrive on a Friday afternoon and the home(s) are finished on Sunday. As many as 3 homes have been built in a single weekend. The volunteers stay in our on-site dormitory and enjoy the ambiance and traditional meals of México.

The homes cost $23,000 each to build.

Who Gets a Home?

Rancho Feliz achieves charitable leverage by seeking families who will excel with the dignity and stability empowered by a new home. We have Mexican associates embedded within the community who are uniquely qualified to locate deserving families for consideration. We typically interview 4 to 5 families for each home awarded.

Qualification and Ownership Requirements

  1. Family has legal title to the land.
  2. Family not involved in the drug industry or other illegal activities.
  3. Family must work hand-in-hand with the volunteers on the construction of their home.
  4. At least one parent must be employed and paying social security to qualify family for medical care.
  5. Children must be in school.

How to Get Involved?


Highly-Johansen Houses

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Donation Total: $500


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“What a weekend! The joy in the young families’ eyes was priceless. It was hard work but I met some great guys and gals. All the arrangements were taken care of and I’ll be going home with a whole new appreciation for my own fortunate life. And I will be returning. This experience is food for the soul!”

– Bill, volunteer builder