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  • Thrive Detroit

City Owned Materials Reduced from Priceless to Pebbles (Part 5 of “Homes for the Homeless”)

Note: Van Gogh’s Bedroom is a plan to create “Homes for the Homeless” in INTERdependent live/work communities using surplus city-owned materials (tunnel rings).

Last month I reported that the destruction of the concrete tunnel segments that I had planned to use to construct “homes for the homeless” could not be stopped. I failed to convince the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department to let me have the segments even though I gave them a cost-effective “way out.”

Materials that could have become community homes for those who are homeless, providing immeasurable impact on the lives of those living in these interdependent communities, have been destroyed, but my passion and dream have not.  They are still very much alive.

In a city with a homeless population of over 20,000, these materials were perfectly suited to help solve the issue of homelessness for some of our residents.  Instead, millions of dollars’ worth of segments have all been reduced to tens of thousands of dollars’ worth of “little rocks” and are ready to be tossed down the abandoned tunnel shaft (along with $145 million). The city-erected mock-up of a “home,” used to prove the viability of the plan, has been dismantled.

Inspired by the world-renowned architect Moshe Safdie’s Habitat ’67, I had planned to stack the tunnel segments to form a multi-level housing complex, in much the same way I saw precast concrete box sections stacked when I visited Montreal’s Expo ’67 in my youth.

For right now there are options to explore, materials to search out, and land to identify.  Detroit has no shortage of materials and land. Unfortunately the city has no shortage of homeless individuals either.

The solution is here, in the city, among us.  We seem to be keenly aware of the need for innovation in technology and the like, and these things excite us.  But we need to expand our thoughts of innovation to address the issue of homelessness in our city.  It is more important than the next cool tablet or phone, and the impact is priceless.   Stay tuned…

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