Architecture for Humanity - SF
Wednesday, April 28, 2004
D E S I G N :

Sneak Preview Link on AFH’s next competition released this week on archinect forums. OUTREACH intends to build a new network of unique structures around Sub-Saharan Africa, using the crisis of AIDS to spoke off into local community projects such as this one that build greater sustainability while serving as transit hubs for the mobile clinic along the way.

‘Building Goals’
”In many parts of Africa sporting activities, in particular soccer/football, are being incorporated into a variety of programs geared towards helping youth to address a broad range of issues affecting their lives. The "team" approach is especially important if countries are to successfully meet and overcome their current challenges, from poverty to HIV/AIDS, and from malnutrition to educational access.

This summer we are challenging the creative world to design a football facility in Somkhele, Kwa-Zulu Natal, South Africa. This facility will serve as a gathering place for youth between the ages of 9 and 14 including home to the first ever girls football league in the area. the pitch will also act as a tool to disseminate information on HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment; and as a potential service point for a mobile health care clinic.

This facility would be inexpensive and can be built through local labor and/or sustainable materials. This project must include demountable goals, sideline benches and a small changing room. The entire facility should be built for less than $2500.”

This is a nice short history of Tent Cities around the nation, and a growing trend leading into Denver right now with a first round positive City Council Response.

Gimme Shelter
Going camping across the country.

If you are in NYC there is Brooklyn Designs 2004

Additionally, the Chamber is pleased to announce that world-renowned architect Enrique Norten will be headlining the seminar/lecture series as the keynote speaker the evening of Friday, April 30. Norten is the founder and principal of the firm TEN Arquitectos, which has offices in both Mexico City and New York. He is the recipient of numerous honors and awards including The Architecture Prize of the National Fund for the Arts, the Gold medal from the Society of American Registered Architects and currently holds the Miller Chair at the University of Pennsylvania. “We are honored to be hosting Enrique Norten as our keynote speaker this year. His participation is truly a testament to the important role Brooklyn plays within the design community,” said Kenneth Adams, President of the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce.

FRIDAY, April 30th 6:30 to 7:30 pm
Enrique Norten in Brooklyn

Enrique Norten, Principal, TEN Arquitectos, will speak about his recent work and his firm’s winning entry in the Brooklyn Public Library’s Visual and Performing Arts Library Competition

Profiling past AFH winners: Gans and Jelacic (check this bio and Resume)

H O M E L E S S :

Real Housing, Real Care, a game of loopholes and extracting money from the homeless’ only cash benefit. What will be guaranteed in return? The city is pinching the homeless now for use of utilities in whatever shelter they will receive as a compromised result of the amended Care not Cash.

Newsom has just cut the total plan for an affordable housing bond significantly, while much concern is how to combine public subsidies for the homeless, low income citizens, and even homeownership subsidies at 100% AMI all in one bond. Traditionally these types of combined bonds have failed, every group scrapping for their parts. This time around we wonder shoudl we even be considering public subidies for new homeowners. While it mimics Prop J how must we examine a more phase inclusionary approach in this type of allocating? Shaw and activist Jim Tracy have shared some op-ed’s on beyondchron.com.

Meanwhile Daly is taking the Housing Preservation Ordinance to the ballot in November. It is seen as an attempt to close the door on a developer loophole that allows them to flip rent controlled units back into market rate at the death of current lessees in so called areas of blight. As much as rent control is the lynchpin for affordability today in SF, we need to think aggressively how to create and transfer that dependency onto other permanently affordable models, while in the meantime do everything we can to preserve every rent controlled unit on the market. The Tenant Congress was this weekend, where a hundred tenants met with Shaw and Daly to discuss rent reform. A vote in the end opted to place more tenant presence on the rent board, making them better majority.

The Bay Area Housing Market right now:

Sunday, April 18, 2004

Supervisors Gonzalez and Dufty teamed up recently to push Jim Reid’s Little House into consideration by Alioto’ Homeless Council to be used in any capacity towards solving the crisis here. Alioto says she loves this house, but acknowledges that they would be primarily for people on a short term basis and who needed a helping hand getting back on their feet. Undoubtedly these super compact but accommodating houses would require a level of pre-existing self-sufficiency on the part of the beneificiary but certainly would address a percantage of the large and diverse homeless population that is not chronic or desperately in need of greater support mechanisms. While Dufty had this statement. "At one point, we were thinking of having vehicular housing parks for people who live in their cars," Dufty said. "This looks more humane and appropriate than that did. I think we should give it consideration.", Randy Shaw cried the consideration ridiculous, "It's not a model for anything," he said. "I couldn't believe (Gonzalez and Dufty) were going to ask the city to spend a minute of time investigating this."

A full Length Chron Interview with Angela Alioto about ‘her passion for the homeless’ and the Council’s Strategy.

The chron also printed this profile on Trent Rhorer, Newsom’s point man on homelessess in the DHS.

‘A young policy wonk on a quick rise through city government, Rhorer played an instrumental role in how this mayor and his predecessor, Willie Brown, began rethinking how to deliver homeless services. For at least two years, he's been plotting a shift away from cash welfare to spending that money instead on housing and treatment services.”

And while Las Vegas prepared another homeless count with hundreds of volunteers hitting the streets, they jockeyed for position in the competition for federal funds. These are the types of efforts happening all around the nation and which have no doubt spurred on the Mayor’s new approach to Outreach. But arch-activist Tommi Mecca had this to conclude.

“This time, instead of more punitive measures to punish the poor (such as Care Not Cash or Prop M) or more committees to study homelessness (such as the recent one he assigned the task of a 10-year plan), Newsom is pushing for something that might actually make a difference: the placement of additional outreach workers on the streets of San Francisco to help the homeless with mental-health and drug problems get into beds and services.” . . .

“What's not clear is how Newsom plans to pay for these additional workers at a time when cuts are expected to devastate the budgets of the two agencies responsible for homeless services: the Department of Human Services (DPH) and the Health Department. Just as importantly, how does Newsom expect these workers to make any difference if there are no beds and no services for people to go to? For a while now, DPH outreach workers have been offering the homeless blankets in lieu of referrals to unavailable services.”

Newsom's Bet, certainly the Mayor has brought people together at least in a start to push past the controversy of how to manage the homeless, and will be the first to admit his career is on the line.

- - -

This article talks about the rise in Corporate Social Responsibility amongst new business student grads, which to seems like it would be inevitable in this current global climate. Nevertheless it is a confirming read that a shift is occurring even within its own chief perpetuator the business community. Partially by pure competitive need businesses are moving into the non-prof sector, and “social responsibility” seems all the more like just a hip trend.

Homeownership Through Education: a model
California Pioneering “Granny Flats”
Local Study on the Failures of Inclusionary Zoning


The AIA AWARDS The Best of the Bay 2004's American Institute of Architects' San Francisco Design Awards /
Winners & Recap: Chron AIA

Special Achievement Award
Phil Angelides, California State Treasurer

California State Treasurer Phil Angelides has single-handedly improved the quality of the built environment in California through his commitment to affordable housing and innovative urban planning. During his tenure, he has rejuvenated California's schools and universities, transit systems, parks, and health care facilities. Laguna West, the pioneering town he developed in Sacramento County, sparked a national dialogue on how to build better livable communities in America. Modeled on the principles of New Urbanism, Laguna West exemplifies a community planned in relationship to an urban center, jobs and civic amenities. We honor Phil Angelides for his extraordinary vision and commitment to the people of California and to the architecture profession.

Krzysztof Wodiczko / Art Piece banned in St. Louis
Agglutinations Interview with KW

Leftover Space: A Profile
UN Habitats Books: How to Fund Low Income Housing.

Sunday, April 11, 2004
Metropolis Magazine Reviews Pasadena’s first biannual Art Center Design Conference with a paragraph on Cameron’s presentation.

"It is easy for design to be provocative, and it is easy for it to challenge our perception of ordinary objects. But can design do more than that? Can it go outside the safety of the studio, of the comfort of the home, and address the world and its 21st century challenges, like bio-terrorism, the AIDS epidemic, and refugee crises?"


Randy Shaw has unleashed a new website beyondchron.com to unmask the bias of the SF Chronicle and call them on their lack of objective journalism. The site is contributed by some leading activists and writers, not to mention Shaw himself staying busier on the reporting front as ever. He has already written some compelling arguments and responses to the Chron’s recent brigade on affordability and homeless issues.

Newsom’s Housing Working Group Won’t Work
Chronicle’s Homelessness Hoax Exposed
Housing for Poor May be Sacrificed to Benefit $100,000 Earners

“Retired homeowners in the Sunset are not going to vote to pay higher property taxes to subsidize home ownership for people whose incomes outpace their own. Nor will tenants vote to pay more rent (through bond passthroughs) so that those earning $100,000 a year can buy a below-market condominium.

A bond measure that combines the wish lists of organized groups fails to account for the fact that the vast majority of voters do not belong to such groups. To get the support of tenants and retired homeowners, the bond must represent an act of virtue and good will. That's why the Laguna Honda bond passed with 72% of the vote, and that's why a housing bond primarily benefiting homeless persons with mental disabilities and the working poor will also prevail.

Creating home ownership opportunities for the affluent by raising taxes and rents has never been, and should not be, a city priority. Yet if the Chamber and its allies have their way, their unpopular proposal will lead to the defeat of the otherwise winning$150 million measure. An historic opportunity to meaningfully reduce homelessness in San Francisco will be lost, all because those who backed Prop J refused to accept the voters will and now want a Mulligan (a golf term for hitting a second ball after a poor first shot).”

Chris Daly writes about the Affordable Housing Crisis on this site: Our-City.org


Matt Gonzalez and Chris Daly
Will speak about Housing, Poverty, Progressive Issues and the future of SF Politics.
Wednesday 04.14 6:00 PM
UC Hastings ‘Dining Commons’
200 Mcallister St

* A great book to read on the dense and mythical academic history of SF is Imperial San Francsico.

"Imperial San Francisco provides a myth-shattering interpretation of the hidden costs that the growth of San Francisco has exacted on its surrounding regions, presenting along the way a revolutionary new theory of urban development. Written in a lively, accessible style, the narrative is filled with vivid characters, engrossing stories and a rich variety of illustrations. Brechin advances a new way of understanding urban history as he traces the links among environment, economy, and technology that led ultimately to the atom bomb and the nuclear arms race."--Don Denevi, Palo Alto Daily News

"Part theory, part history, but with a whole lot of graft, sex and murder thrown in, Brechin has pioneered a genre: potboiler urban history." -- Oregonian

Newsom and Alioto appeared for this (press video) to discuss their new approach to Homeless Outreach on the Streets. Exam Chron

Care not Cash is getting ready to kick in

Jim Reid had mentioned to me trying to purchase the Armory building on Mission & 14th, and when I went by there the other day cranes were busy tending to the rooftop. Looks like someone else has had other plans, unless Jim has some agreement with the developer, I have not been informed.

Larkin Youth Center mentoring the future of homeless kids

REDDING, Calif. (AP) -- About 4,500 Shasta County residents were homeless at least once during the 2003, and another 5,500 faced an "imminent" risk of losing their homes, a report says.

All together, nearly 6 percent of the county's population faced homelessness or the threat of homelessness in 2003, according to a survey by the Continuum of Care Council, a collaborative group that works to provide homeless services to the community.

The group presented its findings to the Redding City Council this week.
Homelessness was up sharply in 2003 over 2002, the group's figures show. Just over 3,000 people were homeless at some point in 2002.

Most of the county's homeless are not transient -- about 44 percent have lived in Shasta county three years or more or have relatives there. Nearly a quarter of those identified as homeless are employed.
"Our community is really walking a thin line," said Melinda Brown, who heads People of Progress, which directed the homeless survey. "There are people here that are in the schools, or in the supermarket, that are very unstable in terms of housing. They are one small paycheck away from the street."

Monday, April 05, 2004
Archvoices has posted their review of the recent 'Structures For Inclusion' conference which was held in Atlanta this year, in conjunction with Association For Community Design (ACD). Unfortunately, there are no recorded transcripts being made available, but the archvoices editors have done a nice job recapping the speakers with some provocative quotes. The 04.02.04 review is entitled 'Choosing Relevancy'.

An expert on nonprofit organizations and management, architect Protip Biswas, Director of Community Building & Leadership Development for United Way in Metro Atlanta, warned "In a fiercely competitive resource environment, it's critical for local nonprofits to explore alternative models of operation. Community-based organizations are being asked to become more efficient at the very same time that resources are shrinking."

Additionally, Mr. Biswas recommended forming joint ventures between nonprofits, consulting with one another rather than repeatedly paying for the same studies to be conducted, and sharing staff members for more efficient allocation of resources. This practice leverages existing talent and allows for more growth with limited means. Mr. Biswas also suggested something he calls "contingency consulting," a way in which groups can perform consulting work within related nonprofits to generate income and promote knowledge-sharing. Mr. Biswas asserted that to stay in business, whether nonprofit or for-profit, groups need to recognize the "double bottom line"; there must be a financial return on the investment somewhere and there must be social benefit.

Here are a couple of articles in recent isues of Metropolis featuring Bryan Bell and Design Corps's Migrant Worker House.

And sort of the equivelent of Matt Gonzalez announcing he will not return to the SF Board of Supe's next year in any capacity, in January architect Maurice Cox has announced he will not be returning as Mayor of Charlottesville after his term is up. Maurice Cox is a big commuinty deisgn advocate, and is interested in getting back into his architectural career with RGBC. Charlottesville was voted the best city to live in our country in 2004. This article discusses a mixed-use zoning ordinance which is allowing a remake of Charlottesville's complexion, a legislation Cox seems quite enthused about.

Simon Conder's rubber-clad cottage shows the best way out of our housing crisis, says Jonathan Glancey in a recent UK Guardian article. This is a timber porch tacked onto the front of Ola Mae's run-down trailer in a remote setting in rural Alabama. Here the changes of scale are as surreal as those of Dungeness: the vast Confederate landscape, the tiny trailer homes for the state's poor. The porch's creators, Lucy Begg and Robie Gay, are an Anglo-American student partnership working with the innovative Rural Studio as part of its "outreach programme".

And HERE is some shipping container elegance. And some more.

Others worth checking out:
Architecture of Affordable Housing
Building and Social Housing Foundation
04.08.04 Event: 2004 AIA San Francisco Design Awards Gala


Contra Costa and SF County were top 5 of 13 to win HUD money out of 64 communities that applied. SF is getting $900,000 in homeless aid benefits.

The NLCHP National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty has posted a good report: Solutions Through Alternative Remedies: Practical Models to Help End Homelessness

And this Letter to the Editor makes a good and simple point about the type sof alliances we should be focussing on in reaction to the Examiner article.

Regional alliances

Editor -- Regarding "Building alliances on homelessness'' (Editorial, April 1): The Chronicle editorial missed the big idea. The critical alliances that need to be built to address homelessness are not local, but regional -- with our Bay Area sister cities and counties. Homelessness is not a local issue, it is a regional issue.

As San Francisco crafts a comprehensive, responsible, progressive policy on the homeless, and other Bay Area cities and counties do not, the number of San Francisco's homeless will only increase with homeless from those locales. It's a no-brainer. It's time for responsible collaborative regional policy on this critical issue.


Other Links:
Why were the homeless attacked in Fresno last month?
Squatting for Peace

Friday, April 02, 2004

While it is important to ‘build alliances’ in order to draft a research-driven and aptly modeled 10 year plan for assisting the city’s homelessness to legitimately compete for Mangano’s federal funds, it is estimated that “If the City takes up the task of building new supportive housing for the 3,000 chronically homeless individuals who live here, the cost, the Corporation for Supportive Housing estimates, would run about $450 million -- about $150,000 per unit. On top of that would be $39 million in yearly maintenance costs.” Sounds like a lot but 10 year plans have proven successful in other cities and given the right plan and the right funding, SF could make a dramatic difference. Though critics are already raising a warranted concern, that too much focus and emphasis on the chronically homeless will only divert attention away from the 90% of the average homeless people who are the most visible. Chronic homeless are said to be only 10% of the homeless population in SF, but use around 50% of all the city’s resources. While these articles are informative, I am always blown away that our government is some how just now realizing, or admitting, to the real systemic causes of homelessness, which is not just a business problem that has been poorly mismanaged, or some resistance on the part of the poor to help themselves. It cracks me up to hear everyone blurting “Supportive Housing” “Supportive Housing!”. It’s like some buzzword the politicians are just now catching on to, and it’s hard to believe that our city has put off this type of research for this long. For anyone who needs a contact for the Homeless Council Reg Smith can be emailed at regsmith@ix.netcom.com.

Meanwhile the rebirth of Care not Cash has stirred a flurry of lawsuits against the city, homeless people claiming their cash benefits will be taken away without ample trade for responsible housing that Supervisor Daly has amended the legislation to require. And as usual, in the trenches to report on how these programs and CNC changes to them are really affecting our service providers, is the intrepid Chance Martin. He wrote this article for the Sentinel about Conard House and how they are being reduced to “human ATM machines” …at a loss ofr services now due to the money management revisions that have taken hold of the sector. Are our policy changes having the right effect in the field on the clients themselves?

And in case you haven’t been following, Jim Reid was evicted and ShelterOne has been moved to 13th and Mission. From what I have been told he is trying to assemble a coalition of clean and sober homeless people to pool their GA and other cash funds in order to purchase the old armory building at 14th and Mission. And Gonzalez is supposedly in the process of drafting a resolution for the board that would allow certain zoning restrictions to be lifted for ShelterOne to possibly be implemented around the city.

Key West is apparently exploring a Tent City, like Dignity Village in Portland which is being referred to as a model for Denver’s proposal as well. Tent City has a history in this country, and the popularity is rising around the nation with a demand for them. Proponents claim that while Tent Cities institutionalize the homeless to some degree, the organization of a greater visibility is what urges local governments into more action to actually resolve homelessness. Denver’s proposal is a great read.

Other links:
SF Housing Element Ever Delayed
Homeless Architecture in Japan
Anonymous Collective - Taking Over Buildings Direct Action
Affordability in Pittsburgh? What has happened to our cities is now happening in our poorest suburbs.


"There's an old saying, 'You only have one chance to make a first impression,' " Davis notes. "If homeless people come to a facility that's impersonal, institutional and threatening, they may just turn around and leave. " This comes from a recent article about Sam Davis, his new book, and turning Nightclubs into Shelters for homeless youth. Sam Davis is lecturing later this month.

More news on local landscape architect pioneer Walter Hood.

``I'm interested in how the everyday mundane practices of life get played out in cities, the unheralded patterns that take place without celebration,'' he said. ``There's a structure to cities, a 4/4 beat. Designing is like improvisation, finding a sound for each place.''

Gregory Burgess won the gold medal of the Royal Australian Institute of Architects.

"I don't think your hand becomes invisible because you're doing collaborative work," he said. "That's something I've come to realize – I have to be there strongly, to kind of lead the dance, or to encourage other people to join the dance, and listen to people and find the right step, the right rhythm. The cult of the egomaniac hero architect died some time ago."

And here is an interesting story about a man who turned a South African dump into an urban garden which has now enculturated the entire area with a new positive environmental emblem.

Some Experimental Stuff to check out:

Container City
Pod Village (beautiful displays at Black Rock)
SHELTERPOD - Emergency Portable Housing
Tadashi Kawamata
HABITAFLEX (this one is utterly generic, but simple)

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