Archive for the ‘disaster relief’ Tag

Geodesic Domes in Haiti

Haiti’s getting help in the form of geodesic domes. California-based World Shelters is sending two of its U-Domes to Haiti, along with two large fabric-covered domes from Oregon-based company Pacific Domes. That’s 3,500 square feet of shelter. The domes will be used as facilities for medical procedures and patient recovery, which will take some of the pressure off the SDA Hospital in Port au Prince.

Donors to World Shelters and also the generosity of Pacific Domes have allowed the geodesic structures to make the trip over to Haiti. World Shelters will travel Jason Hervin, Haiti Program Manager, and Project Engineer Armand Mulin to the site to supervise the construction of the shelters. Mulin was project supervisor on the World Shelter’s and Turning Point Foundation’s River Haven U-Dome project last fall.

“World Shelters projects build relationships with local communities,” Haiti Program Manager Jason Hervin said. “We provide not just shelters, but also opportunities for local Haitians to earn income while rebuilding their communities.” Hervin and Mulin say they’ll be using local labor in order to facilitate economic recovery in Haiti. They’ll also be assessing the shelter needs of many agencies that have contacted World Shelters for assistance.

Update: Haiti Earthquake

Architecture for Humanity is working on the rebuilding effort in Haiti.  An update from their website:

Our Local Partners
We had been set to send a design team to Haiti this month to partner with local NGO Yele Haiti but have put this on hold until we can get a full assessment of the situation. We’ve connected with both Yele and our close friends at the Appropriate Infrastructure Development Group (AIDG). We have made a full commitment to support both their efforts in the long term rebuilding of affected areas.

Our Response
We DO NOT do emergency housing. We primarily work in the reconstruction phase of post disaster situations and will be focused on transitional and permanent housing and community structures. Our appeal is to help supply pro bono construction and design professionals and support in the building of earthquake resistant structures.

If you care about building back better, donate today.

For details, you can check out the Architecture for Humanity website.

Running the Numbers

Written by Lee Schneider, director of SHELTER.

How many homeless people are there in the United States? It’s a tricky question to answer, but I want to try running some numbers past you. The National Alliance to End Homelessness has some good ones to get this started. They estimate there are 672,000 people on the streets every night. Of those 672,000, 37% are believed to be homeless families, usually a woman with one or two children.

Most homeless people are, as you might expect, looking for shelter in cities. But at least 20 percent of them are in rural areas, and that number may be even higher because the more remote the area, the harder it is to count the homeless who may be living there.

The number one state, with the most homeless of all? California.

That’s amazing to me: Our once-prosperous state, home to much innovation, money and creative energy, has become the homeless capital of America. According to some observers, it might be the nation’s first state to fail.

What I’ve written above are the most solid numbers I could find, and they’re from two years ago – the last time anybody compiled state-by-state data. Drawing from those 2007 numbers again, we learn that 42% of homeless people are living on the street, but more than half – 58% – are in transitional housing. That’s the spark of good news I think – because many believe that transitional, even temporary housing, is the way to help solve homelessness. To focus on that, let’s go to Ventura, California.

In Ventura, the numbers are newer, drawn from data gathered this year in the last week of January. On a given day, there are about 2200 homeless children and adults on the streets in Ventura. (Federal estimates put the number even higher, at more than 8,000, according to the Ventura County Star.) Most of those children and adults, 73%, are living on the streets but the remainder, a little over 25%, have found some kind of shelter, some in temporary accommodations such as River Haven.

Some experts believe that 18% of the homeless population are “chronically” homeless, meaning that they are mentally ill or otherwise unable to care for themselves.

There’s debate on that number, but even if it’s rough, it still means that a lot of homeless people are people who may have slipped into a tough position and are trying to work their way out. With the economy still in slow recovery mode, it means that we have a crisis on low simmer that’s not going to go away. More families are going to be looking for shelter.

This is where the architects and designers can step in with inventive solutions. Bruce LeBel of World Shelters recently put up another round of housing in Arcata. (Working with the Turning Point Foundation, Bruce’s company World Shelters revitalized the River Haven community in Ventura, California.) Vinay Gupta has long been developing the Hexayurt, a shelter that can be made from plywood, composites, hexacomb cardboard and other materials. He sees Hexayurts as a solution for regions with large scale rehousing needs, such as Bangladesh. They’ve also been used at Burning Man.  Vinay believes in open source design – anybody can build a Hexayurt – and many have!

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