Posts tagged with "Homeless Shelters":

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3D-printed houses completed for Austin’s homeless population

ICON, a robotics and advanced materials startup based in Austin, Texas, made headlines on the grounds of the 2018 South by Southwest Festival when it presented a prototype for a 3D-printed home created under 24 hours at a cost of $10,000. Two years later, the company applied its tools to the city's affordable housing crisis when it recently unveiled a small neighborhood of six 3D printed homes that will soon be ready for occupancy. The 400-square-foot dwellings, the first full 3D-printed homes in the country, are now a part of Community First Village, a 51-acre master-planned community in northeastern Austin providing affordable, permanent housing and social services for the city’s former homeless community. The structures, designed by local firm Logan Architecture with finishings by Franklin Alan, all feature a single bedroom, bathroom, full kitchen, living room, and porch. “The promise of ICON’s 3D-printing technology is really exciting,” Alan Graham, the founder of the nonprofit Mobile Loaves & Fishes which opened the village in 2016, said in a press statement, “and what better place to start putting it to use than in one of the country’s most innovative neighborhoods designed to serve men and women who have experienced the trauma of homelessness? Vulnerable populations like the homeless are never among the first to access leading-edge anything, but now here in Austin, they’re among the first in line who will be living in some of the most unique homes ever built—and we think that’s a beautiful thing.” To produce the homes, ICON used their 2-ton, 11-foot-tall Vultan II printer, which extrudes a proprietary concrete mixture the team refers to as “Lavacrete.” ICON cofounder and CEO Jason Ballard believes the technology can be easily applied to the country’s affordable housing crisis in light of the relatively short construction time it affords, as well as the often small environmental footprint and design flexibility. Thanks to the ability to print the walls of three homes at a time, the Community First Village project is nearly complete and will open to its first occupants this spring. More tiny home communities will likely pop up across the country in the near future given the recent passing of the YIMBY Act, a bill written to streamline affordable housing production and zoning for high-density single-family and multifamily housing, by the House of Representatives. A similar community of 40 units traditionally-built shelters was recently completed in San Jose, California, on a formerly vacant property owned by the Valley Transit Authority.
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Expansion of San Francisco’s transitionary Navigation Centers threatened

Amid several efforts by California lawmakers, architects, and activists to provide more homeless housing in the Golden State, a group of San Francisco-based Republicans, led by former Republican candidate for mayor Richie Greenberg, have made a concerted effort to scale back the city’s commitment to its homeless population. The San Francisco Department of Elections released a new proposed measure last week titled “Limitations on Navigation Centers.” The measure targets Navigation Centers, a unique temporary housing model developed in San Francisco that offers a ‘pathway to housing’ for those with priority status through Coordinated Entry who stay until housing placement. The first Navigation Center opened in March 2015 and led to the construction of several others, prompting outcries from wealthier residents of the city that included lawsuits and crowdfunding efforts to halt further construction. Last year, the nonprofit group Safe Embarcadero For All (SEFA), argued that the construction of the 200-bed Embarcadero Navigation Center, for instance, would potentially endanger nearby condominium owners and tourists. If added to the November 2020 ballot, the new measure could profoundly limit the operations of each Navigation Center by requiring their presence to become more temporary and reduce the number of beds in each to a maximum of 100—currently, the six operating Navigation Centers have as many as 200 each. According to Curbed, the measure could also thwart Supervisor Matt Haney’s goal of opening centers in all 11 of the city’s districts, making the waitlist for a bed, which is currently over 1,200, exponentially greater. Despite a recent SF Chamber of Commerce poll that demonstrated 69 percent of voters would approve of a Navigation Center in their neighborhood, Greenberg went ahead with proposing rollbacks. “It's just a tragedy now,” Greenberg told Fox and Friends. “But this is San Francisco. This is not anything new. This is classic San Francisco, where the downtrodden are celebrated and coddled.” While he reportedly abhors “the homeless, the drug addicts, and mentally ill roaming the streets,” his efforts to reduce the initiatives of the Navigation Centers would only exacerbate the issue he claims to be against by making housing even more difficult for the city’s homeless population to acquire.
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Berkeley approves plans for city-managed homeless encampment

Amid several proposals to temporarily house members of the Bay Area's homeless community (including one that would repurpose disused cruise ships into homeless housing), a recently approved plan for the city of Berkeley is finally moving forward. Councilperson Kate Harrison presented to Berkeley's City Council—and received voter approval for—a scheme for a city-run homeless encampment that would be able to house up to 50 residents at a time during its initial trial period. Harrison's proposal would require the construction of several wind-resistant tents and accompanying plumbing services, and would necessitate trash pickup to be coordinated by city employees. She then offered a parcel on University Avenue as a potential site for the encampment before emphasizing that there are many potential properties throughout Berkeley to begin the pilot program. The project as it's currently envisioned is in line with the Governor's recent executive order to develop vacant properties throughout California into sites for affordable housing. The plan received support from Moms 4 Housing lawyer Leah Simon-Weisberg and the nonprofit group East Bay Citizens For Action, and only received minor criticism from fellow councilmembers prior to its eventual approval. Councilmember Susan Wengraf, for instance, expressed her opinion that while a solution for the city's homeless shouldn't be further delayed, Harrison's proposal would require a great number of man-hours than the city is currently able to provide, while Lori Droste questioned the status of preexisting, unlicensed camps in the area if the plan were to go forward. “We’re all tired,” Harrison responded. “We need solutions tomorrow also, but we need solutions now.”

The Berkeley city staff will spend the next few months determining an ideal site for the project as well as the manufacturers for the tents. During the encampment’s trial run, the project is expected to operate for less than a year and will largely function as a means of protection for those in need against extreme outdoor temperatures during the winter months.

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Seattle debuts modular housing for homeless Native Americans

Eagle Village, a new pilot community in Seattle’s South of Downtown District, is the first transitional housing project in King County to go fully modular. At the heart of the community are six modular trailers, previously used to house transient Texan oil workers, that have been divvied up into a total of 24 self-contained, dorm-style living units. The units, each outfitted with a bathroom, kitchenette, and ample closet space, are geared to accommodate single-occupancy residents as well as couples and roommates. Pets are also allowed. Even more impressively, Eagle Village is the first transitional housing project anywhere to exclusively provide shelter and related services to Native Americans, Alaska Natives, and Pacific Islanders experiencing homelessness. Completed last October, the $3.3 million development is situated on a parcel owned by King County Metro that will eventually be redeveloped for other purposes. The village, which features a medicinal garden and drum circle, began welcoming its first residents weeks later. In total, Eagle Village has capacity for 31 full-time residents, all of whom, in addition to safe and secure housing, are provided with onsite support services from the Chief Seattle Club, the nonprofit spearheading the project alongside several county agencies. As NPR Seattle affiliate KUOW reported, 30 people, all of them trying to secure affordable housing of permanence in the near future, currently call Eagle Village home. Providing what Chief Seattle Club executive director Colleen Echohawk called “culturally responsible housing” is a challenge that’s somewhat unique to Seattle and King County, where there are an estimated 1,000 homeless people of Native descent. “We make up less than one percent of the total population and make up over 10 percent of our homeless population," Echohawk explained to KUOW. In a press release, King County executive Dow Constantine stressed the ongoing need to provide dignified housing to indigenous peoples experiencing homelessness:
“We know that people of color, and particularly Native Americans, are disproportionately represented in the homeless population, and we are committed to tackling that challenge. With our first completed modular housing project, we are partnering with the Chief Seattle Club to focus on providing safe housing and onsite services for urban Native residents. With Eagle Village, we are turning plans into action, and dreams into hope.”
While there currently aren't plans to expand Eagle Village at its current site, King County will develop other transitional housing communities in Seattle and beyond. Like Eagle Village, all of these future sites will revolve around modular living units once used to house oil workers in Houston. In addition to the six converted trailers now housing the residents of Eagle Village, King County has purchased another 14 Texas-sourced trailers for $90,000 each, with the goal of generating 75 new housing units—units that have the potential to make a world of difference to those who live in them, even if they’re only there a short spell.
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Governor Gavin Newsom proposes billion-dollar plan to alleviate California's homeless crisis

On January 7, California Governor Gavin Newsom announced his statewide initiative to resolve the homeless crisis. The plan calls for a $1.45 billion budget, $750 million of which is from taxpayer money that will be designated for supportive housing, while the remaining $700 million will go towards health-related expenses. “We have an unprecedented amount of investment, and with that, we want transparency and accountability,” Newsom later told KCRA in a televised interview. “We want to see a reduction in street population, we want more people rapidly rehoused, and we want [to provide] more access to behavioral health.” Newsom began a statewide tour on January 13 to speak with California's dispersed homeless population and local nonprofits to learn how best to spend the budget. “Californians have lots of compassion for those among us who are living without shelter,” said Newsom in a statement. “But we also know what compassion isn’t. Compassion isn’t allowing a person suffering a severe psychotic break or from a lethal substance abuse addiction to literally drift towards death on our streets and sidewalks.” The Governor also recently signed an executive order to invest in the search for vacant properties across California to develop them into affordable housing, with an emphasis on those next to highways, state roads, and other commonly-underdeveloped sites—although a recent raid on the nonprofit Moms4Housing in Oakland over squatting, complete with tanks, is seemingly at odds with this strategy. Though many of Newsom's plans for solving the homeless crisis were unsuccessful when serving as San Francisco's mayor from 2004-2011, the recent announcement is an opportunity for Newsom to focus his attention on a statewide level with a significantly increased budget. The plan comes shortly after the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development estimated that 151,000 homeless people, nearly one-quarter of the nation's homeless population, live in the state. While the amount of homelessness has decreased in other parts of the country, the report explains, the population has increased by 16 percent in California. Homelessness has been a significant issue in California given the skyrocketing cost of housing, mixed with a staggering shortage of affordable housing, making the issue a priority among California voters.
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Perkins and Will proposes compact sleeping units for L.A.'s homeless

The Los Angeles office of Perkins and Will has set their sights on the smallest imaginable scale for a modular sleeping unit built for the city's growing homeless population. In response to the mayor's A Bridge Home initiative, a city-led project focusing on creating transitional emergency shelters, the firm's Innovation Incubator team designed the prefabricated Dome unit in an effort to offer a higher level of dignity and sophistication than typically found in U.S. shelters. "We want it to feel residential, not institutional," said Yan Krymsky, a design director at Perkins and Will, in a statement. "It sends a message that people care." Each Dome unit is seven feet wide and six feet deep to provide 42 square feet of space per person. It features a lockable wardrobe, a standard power outlet, a frame for a twin bed, an optional kennel area for a 30-pound pet, and an operable canvas tarp for privacy. Designed with low-cost, quality materials that make each unit feel like a temporary little home, the firm estimates that individually, they could cost as little as $4,749 to build. Locker fabrication company Shield has already been tapped to manufacture them. “Solid surface is low maintenance and resists scratching," the team said, "while wood accents give the unit a residential character." If desired, the units can be combined to allow couples or families to share a larger set together. According to Perkins and Will, the most challenging part of the Dome project was making the units feel dignified and structured when in use while at the same time, flexible enough to collapse for storage and redeployment across the city. A typical 53-foot-long flatbed truck, for instance, can carry up to 32 units when collapsed. A number of other Los Angeles-based firms have developed concepts for homeless housing alternatives, such as Brooks + Scarpa and Michael Maltzan Architecture, and several shelters have already been completed through the A Bridge Home program. As the city with the largest number of homeless residents in the United States, The Dome units present a potentially more expedient option for emergency shelter than other temporary housing structures currently proposed for the city. A prototype of a Dome unit is currently on display at the Architecture + Design Museum (A+D) in Los Angeles until January 12.
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Oakland councilwoman proposes converting cruise ships into homeless housing

During a presentation at a committee meeting on December 5, Oakland City Council president Rebecca Kaplan presented a doubtlessly provocative plan to partially resolve one of the California Bay Area's most significant political crises. One strategy for housing a thousand members of the region's homeless population, Kaplan suggested, would be to repurpose a disused cruise ship and keep it close to the harbor. “I think it’s worth working on," Kaplan opined, "to see if we can have an innovation to provide needed, urgent housing quickly and affordably.” As ludicrous as the idea may have sounded to Kaplan's audience members, it quickly gained traction with those in the industry. Two days after her presentation, an unidentified cruise ship company expressed interest in offering a number of ships for the cause. The opportunity might be attractive to a number of cruise ship companies in light of a looming emissions regulation imposed by the International Maritime Organization that is expected to take place next year. According to the new policy, a number of ships will not fail to qualify for engine upgrades and will therefore not be suitable as fully-functioning cruise ships. Unable to leave the docks, these ships could potentially serve a surprisingly altruistic purpose as they have in the past as emergency housing during Hurricane Dorian, Hurricane Katrina, and other natural disasters. Given the proven track record (though not for long-term housing), Kaplan expressed that she is "excited about the possibility to create more affordable housing quickly.” The Port of Oakland, however, has stated that the plan could not work on its dock in light of current restrictions. The ports are designed for cargo ships, Port of Oakland spokesman Michael Zampa explained, and cannot reasonably accommodate cruise ships without significant alterations. When putting into perspective that the current homeless population in Oakland is currently over 4,000 with little sign of decreasing, a plan such as Kaplan's might become a reality in the near future.
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Old Hollywood Mansion transformed into bridge housing emergency shelter

Less than five weeks after the completion of the Gardner Street Women’s Bridge Housing Center, a mid-century library converted into a 30-bed emergency homeless shelter, it was announced that another in the bridge housing program is now open for business. A palatial, century-old mansion on a busy stretch of Hollywood Boulevard has been subdivided into a 42-bed facility designed to serve up to 40 families. The building, known as the Wallis House, is adorned with Corinthian columns set against a series of light pink facades. Formerly a single-family home, it's now being managed by Aviva Family and Children’s Services, a nonprofit group that has provided services and housing for Hollywood’s homeless community for over 100 years. Aviva’s primary goal is to serve 18- to 24-year-old women who have nearly fallen into homelessness or are in the process of transitioning out of homelessness with the aid of related public services. Los Angeles City Councilmember Davis Ryu expressed that “young single mothers face high barriers to making ends meet and are at a far greater risk of harm when living on the street." He said they need housing and services to meet their specific needs. Work on the renovation began on February 28 with the aid of a $2.3 million from the city’s Homeless Emergency Assistance Program (HEAP). A Bridge Home, the nonprofit behind Wallis House and other bridge housing developments throughout Los Angeles County, has placed several bridge housing centers in Hollywood since the area is home to the greatest number of homeless residents aged 18-24 in the country.
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Historic Hollywood library converted into emergency homeless shelter

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti has treated the city’s homeless crisis as a high priority since he first took office in 2013. A Bridge Home, one of Garcetti projects developed in collaboration with City Councilmember David Ryu, was launched in April of last year in response to a new state law that enables cities to construct a relatively expedient building type known as “bridge housing” to provide shelters for the region’s homeless female population. For its planners, this has meant applying a $20 million budget to the construction of an additional 222 units of bridge housing across the city’s 15 City Council districts within the first two years of the program. After 10 months of construction, the Gardner Street Women’s Bridge Housing Center, the seventh bridge housing project to date, opened in Hollywood inside a former library on September 16. Originally built in 1958, the Honnold & Rex-designed Will & Ariel Durant Branch Library required very little transformation to become the permanent home of a housing center. The main space was divided to provide the majority of the building’s services, including beds for 30 women, bathrooms, a communal kitchen, and support services, while the original front desk and central clock were left in place. “The fact we were able to salvage this building, keep its historic integrity and help meet the crisis of our time is beautiful,” commented Ryu. To ensure that its occupants feel safe, the original outdoor spaces are now gated, the entire facility is staffed by licensed clinical social workers, all of whom are women, and many of its public spaces will soon host various skill training services. While some of the other shelters completed through the program have more beds and amenities—The Bread Yard St. Andrew’s offers 100 beds in the nearby Chesterfield Square of South Los Angeles—the Gardner Street Center demonstrates the benefits of repurposing a building as opposed to constructing anew. Eighteen additional shelters are in the works throughout the city, and statistics suggest they can’t come soon enough; an estimated 18,000 women are currently experiencing homelessness citywide, with 2,500 in Hollywood alone. Critics of A Bridge Home have drawn a connection between the program and the restrictions the city council is currently reviewing that would limit where the city’s homeless population can live and sleep. One proposal being considered at the moment would disallow the homeless from sleeping with 500 feet of most public spaces.
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Lawsuit against San Francisco’s largest homeless shelter tossed, for now

Tensions stoked by the increasing wealth inequality of San Francisco have become the subject of a heated (and well documented online) legal debate over the last several months. After it was announced this April that opponents to the city’s largest homeless shelter, the Embarcadero Navigation Center, were determined to undermine the project through a lawsuit they had crowdfunded for, the overseeing San Francisco Superior Court judge decided not to issue a halt to its construction. The project in question, a 200-bed homeless shelter, is already underway on 2.3 acres in The Embarcadero, the strip of land along the city’s eastern shoreline facing Berkeley, and it is projected that it will be finished by the end of this year. The center's construction first caught the attention of the non-profit group Safe Embarcadero For All (SEFA), which argued that the construction of homeless housing in that location would cause “irreparable harm” to the residents of nearby condominiums (one SEFA attorney cited an act of assault against a Watermark resident on August 11th of this year to prove their claim). They then filed a lawsuit against the San Francisco Planning Commission, the state of California, and the city’s Homelessness and Supportive Housing division. Despite their efforts, Judge Ethan P. Schulman claimed that their charges were unfounded and dismissed their case last Monday. The judge found that the construction and operation of the building would not cause harm to the wealthier residents of the neighborhood, as SEFA’s attorneys claimed it would, but instead would provide the homeless community with a safe environment to call their own. In response to several other issues SEFA have taken against the project, Deputy City Attorney James Emery stated that “the project is temporary” and “should the courts ultimately determine the project is unlawful, the site can be restored to its prior use.” Though the future of the homeless shelter remains unclear, the judge’s recent decision makes its completion much more likely than it has been in several months. However, with the sixth-highest income inequality of any U.S. city, tensions between housing shortages and increasing homelessness rates in San Francisco will likely inspire similar litigation as other homeless shelters are considered in its future. Additionally, SEFA may still get there day in court; although the motion to stop construction on the center was denied, the judge has scheduled a follow-up hearing for September 23.
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San Francisco’s largest homeless shelter is approved, but opponents vow to sue

After a GoFundMe duel that raised $101,000 for opponents of what could become San Francisco’s largest homeless shelter (and $176,000 for opponents of the opponents), the Embarcadero Navigation Center officially received approval from the city on April 23. However, even after a series of concessions between the city and opponents that the center would scale up to its 200-bed capacity from an initial 130 beds, and cut its operating life from four years to two (with an option to renew), opponents still weren’t satisfied. The SF Port Commission unanimously approved leasing a plot of land in the Embarcadero neighborhood to the city. Wealthy residents vowed to fight the shelter in court, after packing the hearing with orange, syringe-bearing signs that decried the “mega-shelter,” according to Gizmodo. Navigation centers differ from traditional shelters in that they allow pets, offer transitionary and health services, and allow residents to stay 24 hours; they’re also designed to be temporary structures. San Francisco mayor London Breed is pushing for the center at Seawall Lot 330, currently a 2.3-acre parking lot, to open before the end of the summer as part of her plan to add an additional 1,000 beds to the city’s capacity. It’s estimated that over 4,300 people sleep on San Francisco’s streets every night, and the city has become the most expensive to live in worldwide. Opponents have claimed that because navigation centers don’t allow drug use, the new residents will be doing drugs in public, and create an unsafe atmosphere in a neighborhood that welcomes a large number of families and tourists alike. Using the GoFundMe money raised, the shelter’s opponents, a group calling themselves Safe Embarcadero, have hired real estate attorney Andrew Zacks to fight the city. According to Gizmodo, Zacks claims that the city failed to deliver the relevant documents in a timely manner and will be suing. Meanwhile, the group presented a petition with 2,600 signatures at the April 24 hearing in opposition to the shelter. It seems that the courts will now decide whether the shelter can be built in time to meet Mayor Breed’s end-of-summer deadline.
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San Francisco homeless shelter inspires online fundraising battles

A homeless shelter proposed for San Francisco’s Embarcadero has resulted in dueling GoFundMe campaigns; one from residents who want to keep the Navigation Center out, and one to support the shelter. On March 4, San Francisco mayor London Breed allowed a plan to move forward that would transform a 2.3-acre parking lot in the eastern waterfront neighborhood into the city’s largest Navigation Center. Centers allow residents to stay 24 hours, provide health and wellness services, and allow pets—they’re also designed to be temporary. It’s expected that the center at Seawall Lot 330, if allowed to open by the end of this summer as anticipated, would only operate for four years while the city wrangles with its homelessness crisis. Some Embarcadero residents aren’t happy. On March 20, a group calling themselves Safe Embarcadero for All launched a GoFundMe campaign to raise $100,000 for a legal defense fund to help them oppose the shelter. Complete with its own website, Twitter feed, and well-heeled backers, Safe Embarcadero successfully hit its goal in 25 days. The group cited the large number of families and tourists the neighborhood draws, and the site’s potential proximity to landmarks such as Oracle Park as reasons for trying to push the shelter elsewhere. “The rushed process the Mayor is following to build the homeless shelter by the end of the summer is concerning to the community,” reads the Safe Embarcadero for All GoFundMe page. “We are worried that the rushed process puts the political goal of building a large Navigation Center ahead of legitimate concerns about public safety, drug use, and other problems that a large shelter may bring to the community. According to the city’s own data, a third of the homeless are drug users and some are sex offenders. “The Navigation Center will not allow drug use inside, meaning that about 75 drug users will be forced into the surrounding family neighborhood to use drugs. The community is also concerned about the environmental effects of building on a site that is known to have toxic materials beneath.” Perhaps recognizing that concerted opposition by “not in my backyard” organizers has killed or segregated low income and homeless housing elsewhere, a counter fundraiser was created in support of the Navigation Center. SAFER Embarcadero for ALL, citing the potential legal costs and community challenges that the shelter is facing, sought to raise $175,000 in support of the Coalition on Homelessness. With 1,900 donations, in comparison to the original group’s 360, that goal was reached in 17 days. The GoFundMe in support of the Navigation Center also drew big donations from Salesforce, Twitter founder Jack Dorsey, and GoFundMe itself, which contributed $5,000. The fight over the Embarcadero center is playing out in real-world meetings and protests that are just as charged as their online counterparts. On April 3, Mayor Breed was shouted down at a town hall meeting as she tried to stump for the scheme. While the mayor has proposed opening another 1,000 beds worth of shelters by 2020, so far only 212 have actually come online. The final battle over Seawall Lot 330 will culminate in a vote by the Port Commission on April 23, as the body (whose five members were selected by the mayor) votes on whether it will lease the site to the city.