[RE] Home Initiative
[RE] newing hope
[RE] defining stigmas
|re| homing the homeless
Designed Using Revit 2017
Rendered further with Photoshop
For this project we were given a company to research and through our research we were tasked with developing an initiative for them. My company was Sustainable Seattle. Through my research I found that the company had a focus on solving both environmental and social issues. Sustainable Seattle is a national leader in sustainability initiatives and frequently participates in helping other companies and cities achieve their own sustainability goals. Yearly, they hold a sustainability summit where company leaders, sustainability champions, and civic employees join to discuss issues and brainstorm future solutions. With as much good as Sustainable Seattle does with regard to the environment and sustainability, there were no social initiatives on their agenda despite mentioning it in their mission statement. With this I developed a social initiative tailored to the biggest social problem Seattle faces: an increasing homeless population.
Seattle has the 3rd highest rate of homelessness nationwide and has the 1st highest rate of homeless families nationwide. Seattle has a homeless population of roughly 12,500 people. In 2017, to aid with this, Seattle spent $57,602,154. This only worked out to $4,608 per person, per year. With the economy in this number was grossly insufficient to provide the type of helped needed. Adding additional strain, I found that most of the money Seattle allocated toward aiding with this problem went toward emergency and overnight housing. A system which does little good for Seattle's most prominent homeless demographic: families. Emergency and overnight shelters unfortunately had the tendency to turn away families due to insufficient beds for the size of the family and gender bias in facilities which only took women and children. I felt emergency shelters did not offer the type of stability needed for someone to get back onto their feet. With emergency and overnight shelters there is nowhere for people to leave their belongings during the day if they need to interview for a job, see a doctor for health purposes, or other basic allowances seen with those who have homes.
For Sustainable Seattle I created an initiative which focused on using their sustainability expertise to design and build sustainable, permanent housing for homeless families. With this, we would |re|home the homeless.
Another element I found to be a contributing factor to Seattle's continued growth in homeless populations was the way these populations were viewed. Seattle rapidly became a technology hub and caters to a specific crowd. In doing so, the property value has increased and and the presence of these homeless values has a negative effect on that increased value. Because of this, homeless communities were routinely pushed further and further away from the city and then away from the suburbs. While this maintained the growing value of the property it created a sentiment of devaluing those they were pushing away and it made it even more difficult for these people to find work as the commute into the city where most of the jobs were, became almost impossible. These homeless families were no longer being seen as people but as a 'problem' that no one wanted to deal with. I felt that the best way to combat this way of thinking was to bring these families back into the community as neighbors who live and interact in the same places as the non-homeless population. Once they were seen as neighbors they could no longer be seen as a 'problem'. With this, we |re|defined the stigma behind homelessness and through all of this we |re|newed hope to those struggling with homelessness.
Finding the right site for this initiative was the key to its success. I wanted the site to be in the heart of whatever community I placed it in so I focused on community centers. Community centers also already provide a number of amenities I felt were important the families to have access to such as counseling, daycare, computers with internet access, and recreational services. I did had amenities such as a laundry room communal lounge areas. I selected a community center on the south side of Seattle which had an existing great lawn area and a couple of soccer fields. The site was ideal as it offered me two design solutions. For smaller families [1-2 parents with 1-2 children] I designed a rooftop extension on top of the community center which featured microunits: a kitchenette, bathroom, lounge area with a sleeper sofa, and a loft sleeping area with a full sized bed. The existing footprint of the building allowed for seven of these microunits as well as a community garden area for residents to grow their own herbs and vegetables in the hope of reducing as many costs for them as possible. Additionally, between each unit was a shared green space where families could come together with one another.
Across the great lawn I added eight small sustainable houses for larger families [2 parents with 3-4 children] which featured a full kitchen, a living room, bathroom, a smaller bedroom with two full sized beds, and a larger bedroom with a queen sized bed. The houses were offset to one another in a way which allowed for privacy as well as a private green space.
Because of the site layout, residents and communities members walked about with one another and engaged in a space which encouraged the cultivation of relationships to reduce the stigma behind homelessness.