Building Kinship To End Homelessness: Connecting Through Construction

A team of volunteer builders in hard hats raise a wall frame to a vertical position.
Habitat for Humanity Build-A-Thon photo by Sandia Labs is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
Habitat For Humanity is a world-famous homebuilding charity training volunteer labour on the job to assist with construction. Can a similar program provide both useful training and emotional support for people who have experience of homelessness?

This post is part of a series about ways that people provide support to those who experience homelessness. The idea that “we treat everyone as kin” resonates through the posts in this series. Finding more and more ways to treat everyone as kin could convince governments to build housing that welcome people who are homeless.

Connecting Through Construction

Waterbeach Barracks1 in Cambridge England is providing indoor construction space for modular housing. The idea to build temporary transitional housing for people experiencing homelessness began to take shape in 2019. To date nine units have been built and six are occupied.

Starting a project like this from scratch means putting together a team with the skills to design the homes, find the land, obtain planning permission, construct the buildings, transport the homes and install them on the site. And all this costs money, which has to be found somewhere.

The construction phase was lead by the New Meaning Foundation. This social enterprise firm employed skilled workers and trainees to build the units. The trainees on this project included people with experience of homelessness. One of the trainees describes how it feels to be part of the team in an interview with the Cambridge Independent: Mission accomplished as modular homes for the homeless installed in Cambridge

The project team is currently stumping for funding to build three more units as well as a site where they can be installed: More modular homes being built to tackle Cambridge homelessness

Footnotes

  1. Waterbeach Barracks is a former Royal Air Force, then Army Engineers, Establishment slated for housing development, but no earlier than 2022

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