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Recycling Waste into Homes for the Homeless of San Francisco

With over 6,000 homeless people in San Francisco, there are a variety of housing services available. Although even with shelter programs, and temporary and subsidized housing options, more than half of homeless individuals are still sleeping on the street. Artist Gregory Kloehn takes the matter into his own hands to give immediate shelter and safety to those sleeping on the streets of the San Francisco Bay Area.

Not having a home means you have to haul all your valuables with you wherever you go, which makes it difficult to lead a decent life while guarding what little you have left. Kloehn creates mobile shelters for the homeless in order to give them a secure and private place to sleep, wash and store their goods. These homes range in size and include elements of everything from bicycles to furniture, but remain small and mobile. However, the most fascinating part of his work is the resourcefulness – everything is salvaged from dumpsters!

San Francisco's mobile homeless shelters made from trash by Gregory Kloehn, San Francisco, California

Kloehn goes dumpster diving for discarded materials that can be upcycled into shelter components which give each home a unique and vibrant aesthetic. The homes incorporate showers, storage, seating, bike reflectors and washing machine windows, really anything that works. The designs themselves are very compact and flexible, having options to accommodate rain or shine, and some even open up to become a vendors counter or shop to generate income.

The homeless homes project realizes the potential and resources within our trash as well as using creativity to address the homeless situation while avoiding the primary concern of cost in this expensive city. These homes are the first step to helping people towards a permanent and dignified lifestyle. Starting small, these structures are easy enough to build with some dumpster diving and motivation, but just imagine if every homeless person started to expand their the shopping cart into a mobile shelter.

One of San Francisco's mobile homeless shelters made from trash by Gregory Kloehn, San Francisco, California

Kloehn could be the beginning of a transformation in the way we address housing options for the homeless. Would the city change its perception of homelessness if these homes became more popular and visible throughout our public spaces? Of the many people still living on the street, providing access to minimal yet stable personal shelter for those left out of other housing programs can have a large impact on their lives.

Do you think this is a viable solution to housing the homeless?

Credits: Images by Gregory Kloehn. Data linked to sources.