New Beginnings Homeless Transition Village: A Permittable Settlement Pattern
New Beginnings is a homeless transition village that delivers temporary shelter-first solutions with wraparound social services. It is the first national code-ready prototype using a kit-of-parts that can be replicated in other communities, reconciling gaps between informal building practices and formal sector regulations.
Problem: Reconciling the Informal and the Formal
Amidst a national housing crisis, an estimated three million Americans experience homelessness annually. Emergency shelter capacity is limited, while local governments are unable to provide permanent housing. Unfortunately, most informal solutions have resulted in objectionable tent cities and squatter campgrounds where the local response has simply been to disband homeless populations and move the problem around.
New Beginnings is a new prototype homeless transition village based on the awareness that transitioning out of homelessness is a stepwise process involving both the need for shelter and wraparound social services. New Beginnings is the first to prototype a shelter-first solution using a kit-of-parts that can be replicated in other communities. The temporary village design (we were granted a five-year building permit by the City of Fayetteville to test the village) reconciles key gaps between informal building practices and formal sector regulations, creating a permittable solution under most city codes. Not unlike Uber and Airbnb, our project highlights informality as a mode for effecting new solutions within stubborn regulatory environments. Indeed, the informal has emerged as an important design epistemology in advanced market economies given the polarization of their economies and the need for distributive justice. Here, the informal pushes the formal to address new socio-economic challenges.
Since the transition village will eventually be dismantled, the low-impact village is designed as if it were a carnival, here today and gone tomorrow with minimal site disruption and quick set up elsewhere. Village design and construction processes eliminate the concept of waste through a flexible kit-of-parts made for disassembly and adaptive reuse or upcycling elsewhere. Once local homelessness is reduced, component subassemblies of panels, cartridges, and village structures can be readily shipped to other communities.