Although the situation is incredibly complex, Framlab boils down the steps towards reducing the homeless population to two clear actions: providing more low-income housing and bolstering the housing assistance programs to reduce the eviction rate.
Step one consists in creating less high-end housing for the high-income households and more affordable housing for the low-income households. But, this involves a steep uphill battle – against the city’s powerful real-estate sector. To provide context: Low income households made up 63% of renters in 2011, only 26% of rental units in the city were low-income affordable.
As an intermediate step to reduce the shelter population, the city needs a lot of temporary housing that can enable an effective and sequential reduction of the shelter population. A key challenge in achieving this is competing against the city’s real-estate moguls for the required land to build.
Another consequence of the growth of NYC, is the increase in land prices and the reduction of available land to build on. Although almost every square foot of space in NYC has been claimed and utilized, there still manages to exist an abundant amount of “vertical lots” sitting idle. These are the blank sidewalls of buildings that emerges and disappears as new developments come and go. In aggregate they make up hundreds of acres of available “land”.Homed is a proposal that seeks to capitalize on this “vertical land”. In conjunction with a flexible framework that already exists in the city – scaffolding – hexagon-shaped housing modules are designed to connect to the scaffolding structure, pack densely, and create a second, active layer on top of the empty wall. In aggregate, this forms clusters of suspended micro-neighborhoods of shelters for the city’s least fortunate.
The unit itself combines a pre-fabricated outer aluminum shell, rugged to handle the wear and tear of the city, with 3D printed polycarbonate interior modules. This technology allows the interior to support any spatial, functional, and stylistic preference the resident may have. Each end is capped with PMMA smart glass, offering transparency and privacy.
Homed 3D printed pods are designed to provide a year-round home for its resident. While the exterior construction of steel and oxidized aluminum deals with the wear and tear of the city, the interior is made up of organic shapes of 3D-printed plastic, that – clad with wood laminate – create a warm and friendly environment. The interior modules are 3D-printed from recyclable bioplastics, offering a much more environmentally friendly and cost-effective assembly than a comparable traditional one.
As equipment, lighting, storage, and furniture – as well as a host of sensors, can be embedded into the module, each space can be tailored to the individual resident, and serve her/his needs and wants. As such, the units are not merely a place for shelter, but a place that can support and improve life. An aggregate, the front face of the Homed units create a cellular mosaic that gives new life to idle building walls throughout the city. Beyond the visual presence, the clusters will be able to foster strong communities within its residents – and with the local hosting neighborhood.