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Student-Built Housing Pods for the Homeless

These are 92 sq. ft. Student-Built Housing Pods for the Homeless.

Eleven architecture students from USC School of Architecture, funded by MADWORKSHOP, built these tiny homes in Los Angeles, where 50,000 people sleep on the streets each night.

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.

Related: Sawhorse Revolution Salvaged Material Tiny House for Homeless

Student-Built Housing Pods for the Homeless

Images via Laist

Related: SocialBite Village for Edinburgh’s Homeless

Images via Laist

Related: Formerly Homeless Man Builds Micro Shelter for Homeless Friend

From Laist:

A class of USC students have designed a portable pod that aims to shelter the unhoused. The project, called Homes for Hope, is akin to an outsized homework assignment. And indeed it is a project that was undertaken by 11 fourth-year architectural students in a class taught by instructors Sofia Borges and R. Scott Mitchell. The whole endeavor was funded through MADWORKSHOP, a non-profit that supports innovative student projects.

The pods represent a mindful and integrated approach to design. On the surface they look sleek and purposefully-built, not drab and starkly utilitarian. Inside, the 92-square-feet that’s available is maximized for space, but also touched with some liveliness to make it welcoming. The designers achieved this by placing operable windows on both sides of the room. The back wall, which juts out like a bent elbow, has the effect of making the space seem more expansive. And, as Borges and Mitchell said in a joint message to LAist, the sense of spaciousness was additionally bolstered by “custom built-in furniture with places to rest, work, and store your belongings.” The designers also chose “light colored materials to enhance the atmosphere inside the space.”

All of this is to say that the pods aren’t merely a way station for the homeless, but a space to be comfortable in, too. While the pods are expected to be temporary living accommodations, they don’t give off that depressing air of haste and disregard. Beyond the aesthetics, they’re also practical in more ways than one. As noted at Fast Company Design, the pods are modular, meaning they can be repurposed as a bathroom unit, or a small office. And with the materials and labor factored in, each pod is estimated to cost about $25,000 (that’s about the same price as a base model sedan).

Read the rest here.


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Natalie C. McKee

Natalie C. McKee is a contributor for Tiny House Talk and the Tiny House Newsletter. She's a wife, and mama of three little kids. She and her family are homesteaders with sheep, goats, chickens, ducks and quail on their happy little acre.
{ 19 comments… add one }
  • Claude
    February 7, 2017, 4:40 pm

    Nice little pods, good job!

    February 7, 2017, 6:50 pm

    What may work for these youngsters is just very limiting to me…! But I wish them well and can’t wait to see what they will build next….

    • Natalie C. McKee
      February 8, 2017, 6:41 am

      They are doing great work 🙂

  • Jill
    February 7, 2017, 11:53 pm

    You know what slightly larger ones for women in DV situations that have kids. I remember when I worked for a DV shelter we got a report that two of the most successful shelters were old motor court cabins. The main office was social workers office etc.

    • Natalie C. McKee
      February 8, 2017, 6:33 am

      Ya that would be a very good idea!

  • Patty
    February 8, 2017, 3:27 am

    I am glad to see this happening in several areas of the country. Long overdue. Good job!

    • Natalie C. McKee
      February 8, 2017, 6:31 am


  • Susanne
    February 8, 2017, 8:27 am

    Don’t y’all think that this is very small and basic for 25,000? (Overpriced).

  • Mary Lou
    February 8, 2017, 9:53 am

    I agree. Pricey for what you get. they are building the equivalent amenities in Madison, Wisconsin for around three thousand. I stand by my sentiments that if you are going to call it a tiny house it still has to function like a house….. you need a place to shower… a place to wee and a place to cook.

    • Alex
      February 8, 2017, 1:49 pm

      It can still be considered a house to some — those who are willing to use a community kitchen/bathroom, right?

      • Mary Lou
        February 9, 2017, 9:37 am

        I agree that it is better than living exposed in the street but the concept of tiny houses is the capacity to go anywhere that your life or needs might take you. Nice when you can take your toilet with you.

        This also falls into the same trap that HUD fell into in the sixties and seventies when they built “projects” around the country. The trap was building systems that warehoused people. It became an incredible mistake. So, I suppose that is my bias when I look at these houses… I would prefer to empower and activate these people, not just warehouse them.

        • Natalie C. McKee
          February 10, 2017, 10:11 am

          Well, in many ways it’s like an apartment complex. Or a dormitory with community bathrooms. You are able to house more folks in a smaller space, and in a city like LA that’s quite necessary.

    • Natalie C. McKee
      February 9, 2017, 7:18 am

      The article explains that these are designed to be stacked in a community, with additional community bathroom facilities in separate pods.

  • Joyce
    February 8, 2017, 11:42 am

    It is a good project to help students learn. The higher price helps fund the educational program and often is associated with ‘location’. Some cities cost more in materials alone or just to purchase or rent any type of ‘suitable housing’. For home owners, many have built similar size buildings for less and larger size with more features of a home for the same money. The $25,000 figure could pay a lot of rent to help the needy and do more since the government once said a family of four could live on half that for a year.

    • Michele
      February 24, 2017, 6:27 pm

      Agreed. The money could be better spent building permanent housing, studios for instance, that people could live in for a limited period of time while they’re getting back on their financial feet. Homelessness is not just drug adicts and alcoholics. There are many who have fallen on hard times, but just need a helping hand to get a job and a permanent place to live.

  • kevin
    February 9, 2017, 7:20 am

    this looks more like a dorm type situation. I think for the homeless, it would make a little more sense to loft the bed slightly and use the under space for closet/storage. Turn the current wardrobe space into a 3/4 bathroom and the study space into a micro kitchenette.

    February 9, 2017, 8:06 pm

    Nice work guys and gals. Keep up the good work!

  • Jane on Whidbey
    May 1, 2017, 1:46 pm

    $25K!?! That’s really sad. No way should it cost that much money, not even in LA. See https://www.fastcompany.com/3056129/this-house-costs-just-20000-but-its-nicer-than-yours

  • Tshimangadzo ndou
    January 19, 2022, 6:17 am

    What cam i do if i want to purchase that living pod for $25 USD?

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