Until evicted by settlers, villages were near permanent water sources, rivers, or springs. Depending upon a valley's richness, band territory extended ten to thirty miles on both sides of a stream to divides above the valley. Band population ranged from three hundred to more than five hundred Persons. The Kwaaypaay (band chief), priests, and environmental specialists lived in a central village; each family had a separate homestead near subsidiary water sources. Central villages held ceremonial grounds and meeting areas, and were surrounded by a cactus fence or nearby palisade refuge. Mountain villages were near fortified rocky peaks. Large villages had an area for trade or ceremonial visitors. European disease and starvation owing to land loss drastically reduced the number of villages and populations. On reservations, families follow the pattern of scattered homesteads with a central ceremonial and meeting area. If possible, economic developments are away from homes.
House structures varied with the environment: earth-covered in the desert, A-frame covered with cedar bark in mountains, and brush- or reed-covered willow branch domes near the coast. Building size varied from those holding four or five people to those holding forty. Settlers evicted them from the rectangular adobe homes introduced by the Spanish. Most modern reservation houses were built by Indians. The Bureau of Indian Affairs built some with the cost charged against Indian claims awards. Some Department of Housing and Urban Development housing also exists.