Increasingly aware of LA’s dire homeless situation, David and Mary Martin, founders of Madworkshop, opted for action. The foundation endowed a University of Southern California studio directed by Sofia Borges and R. Scott Mitchell. Students explored the situation, designed models, and constructed various prototypes of compact nomadic shelters. Some versions were made from found and repurposed materials, resulting from students’ scavenger hunts through the city. Students interacted with the city’s housing experts in a homelessness boot camp and negotiated the minutiae of permits at City Hall. In the end, they got things done. Individual dwellings were donated to encampments and a flexible, modular shelter system congregating units, called Homes for Hope, is headed for Hope of the Valley Rescue Mission. This is a real project for a real client and a real site.
Give Me Shelter, published by Oro Editions, chronicles the endeavor. Photographs show the students—at work and the results of that work. Truly striking are unflinching images taking us into the world of homelessness and letting us see the dignity people rediscover once they have shelter of their own. With a forward by Los Angles Mayor Eric Garcetti and interviews with architect Michael Maltzan and CEO of Skidrow Housing Trust Mike Alvidrez, among others, Give Me Shelter should give us all pause.