Jockeying for a seat recently, at a town hall meeting, I wonder if the organizers were not a bit surprised at the turnout for the event; the event was well attended with over 100 participants. A fierce snowstorm had arrived the day before and that very morning the roads were icy and snow packed. But by early afternoon, on Saturday, the sun was out, the temperatures had risen above freezing, and the roads had mostly cleared.
A public town hall format involves a presentation by a knowledgeable professional panel which is followed by Q&A session with the audience. This town hall meeting, convening on the topic of homelessness in the city of Santa Fe, featured representatives from various shelters and support agencies which serve the homeless population in our area; homelessness estimates are 1500 individuals locally, with less than 100 persons considered to be chronic homeless; Santa Fe has a population of 83,000 citizens.
I wonder if audience members were completely aware of the expanse and the diversity of this invisible community which is part of our larger community. The local various organizations can serve homeless individuals with mental health issues, or drug/opioid addiction, or financial issues, or family abuse issues, as well as human trafficking or youth runaway scenarios, among others.
On the whole, by the end of Q&A session, I believe that there was a sense that the network of agencies, in cooperation with the local community policing initiative, was performing laudable work despite the fact that more obviously needed to be implemented.
A topic which was mentioned on several occasions during the town hall was housing for the homeless and access to land/property for that housing. Although there is presently small and scattered housing options for the homeless population, in the city of Santa Fe, a plan for a larger project, which would be situated on a bigger plot of land, is in the planning stages.
A reference to the Austin TX project, Community First! Village, was made during the meeting. This project is situated on a 51 acre land plot in East Austin. This community features a mix of housing options: micro homes or cottages of less than 200 square feet, platform tent cottages, and vacant lots for RVs; rental prices maxed out at about $200 a month. When completed, the community would include a community garden, walking trails, a medical facility, and various of other tradition businesses and services. The first residents began to move into the village at the end of 2015; presently, the initiative has recently commenced a second phase of the project.
Obviously, the costs of constructing, a micro home, or a cottage, is a major concern for any community considering housing for the homeless. The city of Austin was also a site for the installation of prototype of an experimental micro home which was printed by a 3D printer in less that 24 hours; the cost was about $4000.
The prototype was the product of a collaboration between the New Story organization, a housing charity organization, and ICON, a construction tech company. The mortar was printed by a massive metallic 3D printer system while human workers installed windows, doors, and plumbing/electric infrastructure.
In the past 3 years, this collaborative has built more than 1600 standard micro homes in four countries which have had a severe need for housing; this included housing projects in the countries of El Salvador and Haiti. The organization hopes to build a community in 2019, somewhere in Latin America, which would be entirely constructed of 3D printed housing.