On any given night in Los Angeles County, more than 66,000 people are sleeping on the streets. That number is expected to grow amid rising unemployment, increasing evictions, and the pandemic’s interruption of dozens of planned homeless housing projects.
In a bid to safely bring the unhoused public indoors, Los Angeles–based nonprofit The Housing Innovation Collaborative (HICo) has launched The Rapid Shelter Innovation Showcase—an open-source, online platform for rapidly deployable shelter solutions to the homeless crisis worsened by COVID-19.
Endorsed by Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti and Los Angeles County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, the ambitious initiative invites anyone around the world to submit their temporary or permanent shelter designs—from conceptual prototypes to on-the-shelf products—so long as the structures can be designed, built, and operated in 90 days or less.
"This is a first-of-its-kind, open-sourced innovation initiative to address the homeless crisis," says Charly Ligety, a founding partner of HICo. "We seek to highlight a wide variety of solutions, from proven products and technologies adapted from prior emergency shelter applications, to the next generation of shelter concepts in their early prototype stages. We hope the Showcase helps usher in a wave of new and improved rapid shelter solutions for communities in need."
Currently, 40 shelter designs have been uploaded to the Showcase and are available for public viewing online. All entries include a cost-per-bed estimate and an approximation of the number of days needed for deployment. At the time of writing, submissions range from $195 to $125,000 per bed, a wide gulf that marks this as a first step in discerning which solutions are most viable.
"All too often, we see a communication gap between the housing industry and the people producing the most compelling and innovative ideas for new solutions," says SCI-Arc research coordinator Erik Ghenoiu.
"The Showcase provides a platform where this much-needed conversation can take place, and a place to glimpse the future, which we can only hope will be an epochal and disruptive advancement in the business of housing production."
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