Housing for the homeless

idaho-tiny-houseVolunteers around the world are coming up with creative housing designs to address homelessness in their city.

There are an estimated 100 million people in the world without any form of housing. Inadequate government funding, combined with insufficient affordable housing in many cities, have prompted volunteer groups and architects to think of innovative alternatives to house the homeless.

Idaho Tiny House is a volunteer-run organisation in the US that builds small, mobile houses for disadvantaged people in Boise, the capital of Idaho.

The ‘tiny houses’ are just like any ordinary house, with windows and plumbing. They aim to provide secure habitation for the homeless so they do not have to sleep on the streets. A door and a lock are provided for each house to offer occupants a sense of security.

The houses are built on trailers so they can be transported easily. They are also energy-efficient and cost-effective, requiring only $5000 to build each house.

In Hawaii, recent legislation prohibiting homeless people from sleeping in public has raised concerns that vulnerable groups are being criminalised to make the city more appealing to tourists. Hawaii has one of the highest rates of homelessness in the US due to a combination of high rent and income inequality.

Group 70 International, a Honolulu-based architecture firm, has come up with a creative solution to provide shelter for Honolulu’s homeless population.

The architects plan to transform five decommissioned city buses into mobile homeless shelters. The buses are designed to work in a fleet, so some of the buses will be used as sleeping areas while others will provide shower and recreational facilities. The refurbished buses are expected to be ready by the end of the year.

Back on Track

Sarah Crowley’s design ‘Back on Track’

In Melbourne, architect Sarah Crowley has designed a project titled ‘Back on Track’, which uses a one kilometre stretch of unused land near the Melbourne CBD to create a new neighbourhood.

A train line currently runs through the site, but the ‘Back on Track’ design will create a bridge over the train line, thereby reducing noise and vibration.

“I noticed that there is a lot of unutilised space either side of train lines, and thought this would be ideal to make use of and develop,” Ms Crowley told Fairfax Media.

“This project is really aimed at a solution for secondary and tertiary homelessness – people and families who have lost their jobs, have minor mental health issues or are already living in low-cost public housing.”

The project aims to create a neighbourhood that will encourage interaction between those who were formerly homeless and the non-homeless population.

In addition to providing housing, the neighbourhood will offer public programs and activities for the homeless. This will assist in helping homeless people find a source of income as well as develop their sense of self-worth. Cafes, shops, gardens, art centres and the headquarters of The Big Issue will also be located in close proximity to the residential area.

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