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Homelessness Charrette : Introduction, Presentation & Panel 1 (January 11, 2019)01:36:21

Welcome & Introduction

Hernan Diaz Alonso frames this as the opening event of a weekend design charrette in which all the students and faculty of SCI-Arc will develop responses to different aspects of the homelessness crisis in Los Angeles, presenting their solutions next Monday. The premise is that this is a situation that requires thinking outside of the box, fueled by a belief that that design is not a luxury but a human right.

Lien Heidenreich-Seleme describes the Goethe-Institut’s involvement with the charrette as part of their global “Worlds of homelessness” interdisciplinary engagement with the issue of homelessness and related issues such as participation, inequality, gentrification and migration.

Mark Ridley-Thomas describes how the Prop H sales tax measure to fund homeless services and prevention in Los Angeles County, approved in 2017, has already housed 10,000 experiencing homelessness. He describes the “Safe Landing” project, which will provide a full-service site to individuals transitioning out of homelessness into permanent housing. But much more work is needed in both affordable and supportive housing. Ridley-Thomas affirms that SCI-Arc’s role is to not be boring in finding ways “to create more spaces of dignity, hope, possibility and of purposiveness, where all who call Los Angeles home can reach their full potential, and achieve lives worthy of our effort, companionship, knowledge and love.”

Presentation: Framing the Problem

At 24:11, Erik Ghenoiu introduces Jerry Neuman, describes the evolution in thinking on homelessness over the last ten years in City and County of Los Angeles. He stresses that the city is responsible for buildings while services are the responsibility of the county. He notes that over the years the factors causing homelessness change, as do the populations most effected.

At 30:58, Chris Ko reviews facts about homelessness in Los Angeles. Homeless includes not only people on the street (currently 52,765), but those living in vehicles (15,748). He stresses that the problem is geographically dispersed, with the highly visible population of Skid Row accounts for only 8% of the total. He notes that maintaining the status quo is a costly drain on public services: in 2017, $100 million for the city, and $1 billion for the county. He characterizes ¾ of the population as homeless because of economic issues, and ¼ as homeless because of permanently disabilities, stressing the diverse conditions people are trying to exit from. He describes the effectiveness of active street outreach. Homelessness decreased among veterans 57% between 2011 and 2016. He disputes the perception that most of the homeless are transplants, arguing that the housed are more likely to be transplants than the homeless (75% lived in L.A.) Ko identifies three biggest challenges as Populations, Permanent solutions and Place. The Homeless population is changing, with more older and young adults. Temporary solutions need to convert to Permanent solutions. Diverse delivery systems in diverse places are needed, with outreach teams, where and how they work. He encourages students to participate in the Greater Los Angeles Homeless Count, and the Celebrate HomeWalk event in Grand Park.

Panel Discussion 1

At 46:06, moderator Jerry Neuman, and panelists Jen Kim, Chris Ko, Thomas Newman, and Christopher Hawthorne discuss issues and challenges in responding to homelessness from both policy and design perspectives, including cultivating community support, bringing down per-unit costs, and working within and/or creating flexibility with zoning and building safety requirements. Several panelists stress the need to create environments that meet the residents’ recovery needs – accommodating privacy and pets, for example. They discuss Los Angeles’ housing deficit, arguing that the homelessness crisis is the housing crisis. The panel concludes by urging the charrette participants to “take us to a place we haven’t thought of. And take us somewhere with some ideas that we can leverage both from the policy standpoint as well as design standpoint.”