In rural El Salvador, a family living on $1.90 a day might live in a makeshift house with dirt floors, thin walls, and no running water. But next year, dozens of those families will move into one of the world’s first communities of 3D-printed homes.

New Story, a Silicon Valley-based nonprofit whose leaders have spent the last few years rethinking how to build safe housing for those living in extreme poverty, worked with Icon, a construction tech company, to create a 3D printer that can build a house in a day for roughly $4,000. The printer, called the Vulcan, will be unveiled at SXSW, along with a 3D-printed home that now stands in an Austin backyard.

New Story previously worked to quickly build low-cost houses in places like Haiti, where other construction efforts faltered after the 2010 earthquake, and El Salvador. But the nonprofit realized that even the most efficient process of traditional building couldn’t address the number of homes needed. “We thought, what would it look like to have more of an exponential breakthrough for such a big challenge?” says CEO Brett Hagler.

The team laid out three goals. First, they wanted to significantly decrease the cost of building a house, though the homes they were currently building–with concrete walls and a simple design–were already very low-cost, at $6,500. They also wanted to make construction faster, while improving the quality of the final home.

After seven months of research into various ways to solve the design challenge, they landed on 3D printing. When they first heard about the technology, Hagler says, “We were very skeptical of the viability of this. It took doing a lot of research and a lot of due diligence to figure out that it could actually solve for those three design questions.”

Read the full article about the 3-D printed home that could help people in poor countries by Adele Peters at