The Block Project: Creating Community and Housing Solutions for the Homeless

6:05 PM

Seattle, WA // 230 Sq Ft // $35,000/home

In Seattle, where homelessness is a pressing issue, a local nonprofit called Block Project is making a difference by fostering proximity and community through innovative housing solutions. Founded in 2017 by architects Rex Holbein and Jenn LaFreniere of BLOCK Architects, Block Project allows homeowners to volunteer their land to host a fully equipped and modular 230-square-foot Block House, providing a safe and dignified living space for people experiencing homelessness. With a focus on building diverse and connected urban networks, Block Project aims to revolutionize the way we address homelessness.

The heart of Block Project lies in bringing people closer to the issue of homelessness. By allowing homeowners to offer a portion of their backyard, the project encourages a sense of shared humanity and understanding. Social service agencies play a crucial role in referring and thoughtfully matching hosts with formerly homeless residents, ensuring compatibility and support.

The Block House, a 230-square-foot fully equipped dwelling, is designed to maximize efficiency while maintaining a comfortable living space. Constructed with cost-effectiveness in mind, each residence costs $75,000 and can be built in just six months, a stark contrast to traditional affordable housing options. The modular design allows for easy assembly and disassembly, enabling the homes to be relocated and reused as needed.

Block Houses are not only efficient and affordable but also environmentally conscious. The project embraces sustainability by utilizing sustainably harvested juniper wood for decking and siding, tackling the issue of an invasive species in Eastern Oregon. The homes are also being evaluated for Living Building Challenge certification, a rigorous green building benchmark. Insulation made from Havelock wool and eco-friendly cork flooring further enhances the eco-conscious design.

With the successful completion of multiple Block Homes and ongoing collaborations, Block Project aims to expand its impact and inspire others. By providing a viable option for housing needs, the project aims to be part of a growing menu of solutions to address homelessness. Block Project envisions continued growth within Seattle and the establishment of similar initiatives in other neighborhoods and cities.

Block Project stands as a beacon of hope and innovation in tackling homelessness. By fostering proximity, building community, and providing dignified housing solutions, the project exemplifies a model that combines social responsibility, affordability, and sustainability. As the project continues to grow and inspire, it is poised to make a lasting impact on the lives of homeless individuals while challenging traditional notions of land ownership and housing policies. Block Project serves as an inspiring example of how community-powered initiatives can transform lives and create a more inclusive and compassionate society. 

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Minimalist Movement, a blog by Tiny House Town

Images © BLOCK Project

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