Architecture for Humanity - SF
Thursday, January 29, 2004
Jay Shaft & Chance Martin DELIVER THE FACTS in The Real State of the Union.

"Since the year 2000, the homeless population in America has increased by approximately 50%. In 2003 the homeless population increased by approximately 15% on a national average. Every year since 1999 the homeless population has increased by 10-15%. While it is hard to track the total number of homeless, each year at least 5.5 million people experience homelessness at some point.

Since 2000 every major US city has reported an increase in homelessness of between 35-50%. Most cities are not able to keep up with the increased demand for services from the increases in the homeless and hungry. Due to budget shortfalls many cities have had to cut back on necessary services such as homeless shelters and housing programs for low-income families, and emergency food centers.

The average wait to get in to public assisted housing was 22-26 months in 2003. Most low-income families have been on the waiting lists for an average of 14 months and are still waiting for adequate housing to become available. It is estimated that an additional 2.3 million people applied for public housing in 2003.

60% of all new cases of homelessness are single women with children. 15% of all new homeless cases are families with children. Homeless families comprise 40% of the total homeless population. 41% of the homeless population are single men, 14% are single women, and 5% are unaccompanied minors."


This article makes a good case for what is needed to address the mentally ill contingent of homeless cringing in our SF streets. And as The California Budget Project, an advocacy organization for low- and middle-income residents, found that the state's affordable housing crisis has reached emergency status, the Trinity Plaza battle is heating up with more protests until the Board hears Supervisor Daly’s anti-demolition ordinance coming up that aims to disallow demolition of low-income rent-controlled properties of 20 units or more.
Wednesday, January 28, 2004
The NAEH (National Alliance to End Homelessness) has a great page dedicated to: Best Practices & Profiles, which highlights program models, state and local policies, and advocacy efforts that are taking positive steps toward ending homelessness.

Santa Cruz
eyes homeless collaborative as officials are looking to participate in a regional effort that directs cities to help neighboring cities get a handle on the burgeoning number of homeless people.

Local activist Marc Solomon has written a short informative article on not only why to oppose Prop J, but what he sees as the Achilles Heel of the progressive movement right now.

Imagine ! ! -- A North Beach and Telegraph Hill dotted with high-rises, surrounded by a freeway, hardly green at all, its historic dwellings gone or diminished, and North Beach an extension of downtown. Efforts to avoid these consequences have been worthwhile and even essential. Telegraph Hill Dwellers was formed in 1954 and now has more than 850 members. During its 5 decades, it has led or participated in many efforts without which Telegraph Hill and North Beach would be greatly different from what they are today.

Monday, January 26, 2004
Good news, Board of Supervisors President Matt Gonzalez has agreed to kick off the first seminar for the SFGP Housing/ Land Use Public Seminar Series I am helping to organize next month Feb. the 26th, so mark your calendars. Our working group is preparing speakers and topics to discuss in the coming months the many issues surrounding the complex and convoluted nature of housing and policy in SF today, with some of the city's most relevant voices: Supervisor Chris Daly, Calvin Welch, Joe O'Donoghue, Randy Shaw, Ted Gullicksen & (tentatively, Brad Paul, Larry Bush, Supervisor Jake McGoldrick, Paul Boden, and a bunch more).

* Here are some recent articles Randy Shaw & Paul Boden have published regarding Prop J, Supportive Housing, and the Chronicle's misreporting of the news.

Design Corps has announced Structures For Inclusion 4 - Choosing Relevancy, their next installment of conferences, which aims to confront the consciousness designers must face when choosing their clients, between the few or the many. This time the speakers will include our own David Baker and Walter Hood, along with Maurice Cox, Teddy Cruz and Andrew Wagner from Dwell. I am considering attending March 26-28th in Atlanta, if others want to join and form a group together let me know.

And a friend has pointed out this international organization OXFAM which is doing a lot of work directly related to AFH's effort in Bam, Iran right now. While coordinating relief efforts to combat world poverty directly, they also heavily campaign for policy change all over the world.

Sunday, January 25, 2004
Here are some HOMELESS NEWS LINKS I found recently.

In Downtown Memphis, Tenn. the city has mandated panhandlers must pay 10 bucks for Permits to Panhandle, can you believe that?

Chance Martin, editor of Street Sheet, updates us on some recent Homeless Policy news.

Students are engaging different skews on homelessness and Container Arch, while architect Mike Strauss continues to prepare containers for global use.

And while an affluent suburb like Orinda ditches an effort to provide shelter outreach , Portland allows a sanction for a Homeless Village.

Avalon Chrystie Place in NY is being praised as the result of an unusual collaboration of state and city officials, nonprofit organizations, grass roots groups and private companies, brings to a close what has been called the longest-running dispute over an urban renewal site in the city.
Thursday, January 15, 2004
Welcome to the AFH.SF Blog site.

Mission Statement Draft:

Architecture for Humanity in San Francisco is committed to engaging projects which merge design and social activism together. We are seeking to bridge a new coalition of architectural activism comprised of local developers, non-profit & community service organizations, political action advocates, legislative analysts, academic partnerships, and an interdisciplinary collective of design experts, so that AFH.SF can serve as a regional locus for socially conscious design practice.

Our mission is currently to understand the manifold issues that have made the crisis of homelessness in the Bay Area the most critical in the nation. In educating ourselves, our aim is to explore projects which can relay our findings to the public in the form of a ‘direct design action'.

In order to strengthen the visibility of SF’s unique political landscape, we are hoping to raise the relevancy of design to a new awareness through developing progressive solutions for the homeless.

Here is a list of some of our agenda items.

Current Projects:

1 - AFH Bookmarks: We are finishing up the design and printing of a custom bookmark which advertises AFH and is aimed to be placed in local Arch & Design bookstores around the city. Not only are we placing them by the register but are hoping to have these inserted with purchases and mail orders too.

2 – “Meeting Our Community” : We are in an intensive stage of establishing our local network and meeting as many people possible who are interested or are pursuing contexts related to AFH. In order to interface the types of progressive homeless projects we aim to engage we are busy educating ourselves, meeting local developers, activists, policy makers, AIA reps, etc., and generally trying to pitch AFH.SF to the SF Community as a local architectural activist collective. This has resulted in walking tours of supportive housing units (TNDC), participation in local Housing & Land Use Working Groups (SFGP), etc.

3 – A Survey for Developers: Putting together a survey to hand out to DEVELOPERS so we can gather info from them on how they go about utilizing architects and go about "developing" low income affordable housing or homeless projects, specifically how architects and community members are sought and incorporated into the process.

4 - A Comprehensive Web Project: to associate all of the coalitions, developers, non-profs, organizations, architect/design firms, local policies, news and projects relevant to a regional chapter of Architecture for Humanity. It will focus on bridging an infrastructure currently lacking between the design community and social activists, and establish a new network to help centralize the fragmented factions of the local architectural activism movement here. To include profiles of all Bay area “socially conscious” architects, community designers, etc, and a searchable database which can help activists locate these types of projects and those who have developed them. End goal: to create a hub site for future progressive homeless projects.

5 – Homeless Donation & Info Kiosks: In lieu of Prop M which just passed here outlawing “aggressive panhandling” I am exploring a possible project for a homeless kiosk initiative. The hope being that while Prop M will be a divisive tool to eliminate panhandlers from the streets the city needs to give something back to acknowledge the needs of panhandlers. These kiosks would opt for a new organization which would employ homeless people to man these kiosks, to provide Homeless News sheets, advocacy group info and contacts, and allow in a dignified manner panhandlers to collect donations. The project explores the perceptions and negative stigmas that are attached to the interface of typical hand outs and would invite people to give money on the premise that their handouts would go to an organization which would redistribute the collections to homeless people in the form of food & service vouchers. The kiosks are also an attempt to invite homeless people into a working program who are more skeptical of civic programs in their current degraded state.

6 – Homeless Seminar & Workshop: I am currently part of a Housing & Land Use Working Group for the SF Green Party and we are organizing a series of Housing Seminar Workshops for the following months this year. I am in charge of one dedicated to homelessness. My goal is to coordinate activists and speakers Paul Boden, Randy Shaw (and others), along with a media installation of panels, slides, detailing some of the most effective and progressive solutions to homelessness being practiced in cities around the country. The AFH.SF Chapter is intensely trying to become educated about this issue, and hope to affect policy as much as shelter.

* Contact Info: Bryan Finoki or ‘Bfunk’ – bfunk2000@yahoo.com, phone # 415.846.9422

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