Homes For Hope

MADWORKSHOP x USC School of Architecture, Fall 2016

Martin Architecture and Design Workshop (MADWORKSHOP) sponsered The Homeless Studio at the USC School of Architecture for the Fall 2016 semester. The Homeless Studio was led by Director Sofia Borges and Board Member R. Scott Mitchell.

*Homes for Hope won Fast Company’s World Changing Ideas Award in the Student Category


In a city with a vacancy rate of 2%, countless plots of land remain underutilized across Los Angeles. Homes for Hope activates this unused land to provide modular, transitional stabilization housing for immediately sheltering the city’s homeless. Installed or dismantled in two weeks or less, Homes for Hope easily reconfigures and adapts to a range of site conditions. The stackable 92 square foot units aggregate into 30-bed communities. The base modules combine to form communal spaces, bathroom facilities, outdoor terraces, and courtyards. Homes for Hope offers an affordable and empowering solution for rapidly rehousing our city’s most vulnerable – the first step on one’s journey home.

More than 50,000 people sleep on the streets of Los Angeles each night (that we know about). In the past year alone, homelessness in the San Fernando Valley has increased 35%. For this project, we partnered with Hope of the Valley Rescue Mission and their CEO Ken Craft to develop a solution for emergency stabilization housing. In Los Angeles, attention and funding focuses on permanent supportive housing. Permanent supportive housing is the long term end-goal for all people experiencing homelessness. The trouble is, this type of housing takes years to realize and typically only produces a few dozen new units at a time.

 *Video by: PLANE-SITE  | *Photography by: Buddy Bleckley

Homes for Hope provides transitional bridge housing to get people off the streets and into permanent supportive housing sooner. While we worked with Hope of the Valley as the client for this pilot project, the concept of Homes for Hope is not client specific and can be applied rapidly across the city to meet the growing epidemic of unhoused residents. Since the beginning of the project, we have worked closely with the Mayor’s Office and the Departments of Building and Safety and City Planning to optimize the design and ensure we are code compliant. Homes for Hope identifies and works within a number of city zoning loopholes to help people get sheltered faster.

The units aggregate into communities of 30 beds or less, making Homes for Hope a by-right project zoned as congregate housing. Typical construction in the city of Los Angeles has a lead time of 2-5 years for every project. This design cuts down on these bureaucratic delays. By developing a pre-approved unit that can be manufactured in bulk quantities, Homes for Hope can be deployed quickly and for a fraction of the price of typical LA construction. The units can be built for $25,000 each, and the price will go down dramatically as more are produced. The stackable living units are all identical, structurally isolated, and maintain their robust integrity as they are reused and relocated from site to site. Each living unit features a warm and bright interior consisting of welcoming amenities that include a CNC-milled bed, dresser, desk, and storage. Units maintain the utmost levels of efficient thermal performance thanks to the use of sustainable strategies like cross-ventilation and passive solar design.

This effort stands as the culminating project of the MADWORKSHOP Homeless Studio and has begun initial fundraising for the first pilot project for senior women in Sylmar, California.


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