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Pop-Up Sites for Overnight Temporary Shelter: Serving our homeless neighbors with dignity first

Cardborigami Inc

Non-profit organization

We will deploy architecturally designed, low-impact shelters made of treated cardboard at managed sites around LA nightly to transform conceptions of what emergency homeless shelter can be.



What does your organization do?

Cardborigami enhances the capacity of organizations that offer supportive pathways to permanent housing, by using our patented product to provide temporary shelter to those experiencing homelessness.

Please describe the activation your organization seeks to launch.

Cardborigami will establish safe, managed, temporary shelter sites on secured premises of private property hosts, where our shelter structures will be set up in an open-space area for assigned use by homeless clients. Each client will be registered or continued in individualized case management by the local homeless services organization with whom we are partnering. These pop-ups around the City of LA will demonstrate a practical, neighborhood-based solution to a widely distributed crisis.

Which of the live metrics will your activation impact?​

  • Rates of homelessness

Will your proposal impact any other LA2050 goal categories?

  • LA is the best place to LEARN
  • LA is the healthiest place to CONNECT

In what areas of Los Angeles will you be directly working?

  • South LA
  • County of Los Angeles
  • City of Los Angeles

How will your activation mobilize Angelenos?

  • Advocate for policy
  • Digital organizing or activism
  • Trainings and/or in-person engagements
  • Increase participation in political processes
  • Influence individual behavior
  • Connect Angelenos with impactful volunteer opportunities
  • Increase donations to organizations and causes

Describe in greater detail how your activation will make LA the best place to live?

We need to rethink what an emergency homeless shelter can look like, where it can be located, and how it can better serve and maintain dignity for those experiencing homelessness. LA has the highest numbers in the country of homeless who are without access to shelter, and we also top the percentage of unsheltered homeless (78%) amongst US urban areas. That means over 45,000 people do not have a sanctioned place to sleep as of the Jan 2017 count; the number will likely be higher once the 2018 count is reported in May, given the 26% rise in homelessness between 2016 to 2017.

Emergency shelters are typically conceived of as physical buildings within which people are aggregated into open sleeping arrangements. Two main problems of this approach are: traditional brick-and-mortar facilities cannot be built or converted fast enough to meet the urgent need, and grouping strangers into such an environment can elevate anxieties. Instead of limiting the format of such shelter to permanent structures, our activation reimagines what we can do with existing outdoor lots that can serve multiple purposes, including for very temporary and quickly deployable shelter. The Cardborigamis will also give clients a sense of private space that will reinforce their well-being while a part of the collective site.

Our homeless neighbors belong to all geographies of LA, and they find places to sleep wherever they can, often in areas that are familiar to them. It’s crucial for us to recognize that the need for emergency shelter is dispersed, and concentrating services or resources in a few spots that are hard to reach or require transportation to is not the answer. As reliable access to shelter is top priority for someone to transition off the streets, locating shelter pop-ups closer to where the homeless already are, rather than moving them to far, unfamiliar places, ensures a higher likelihood of them progressing with services. With our no-lasting-trace footprint, Cardborigami will empower neighborhoods with our shelters and joint planning to show that creating a shelter site does not need to be a long-term capital commitment for a what should be a temporary state. This approach also allows for siting that is much more responsive and flexible to changes in demand.

The lack of emergency shelter is an acute bottleneck preventing more homeless from being connected with needed services. Further, what legal shelter is available often has preset limits for who they can accept and how many, based on gender, life stage and official funding allocations of beds for various sub-populations. This type of planning is heavily weighted in infrastructure and cannot adjust to the dynamic conditions or demographics of homelessness. Our activation will increase the efficient use of outreach workers by creating new locations where they can do intakes & assessments for the countywide Coordinated Entry System, while reducing disruptions that unsheltered folks experience with street sweeps.

How will your activation engage Angelenos to make LA the best place to live

Many Angelenos are looking for ways to effect change in our homelessness crisis beyond just approving ballot measures; others want to see more immediate results now. We intend to activate a broad swath of folks who are interested in taking action to enact a local, near-term solution. They will be involved in helping to make emergency shelter pop-up sites successful in their own unique communities. Our project will empower them in local decision-making around siting, operating characteristics and, most importantly, how to realize a common goal by using creative resources. By working through the Neighborhood Councils, we will also link those who have not participated there in the past to get more involved in other issues affecting their neighborhood.

Our activation will engage:

  • Residents & other stakeholders to call on their local councilmembers and relevant public agencies, such as Planning and Fire, to voice support for policy changes that would allow the implementation of outdoor solutions

  • Residents & their family members to volunteer onsite as greeters; monitors; intake assistants; storage helpers and other light functions

  • Those who have volunteered onsite to share their first-hand experiences interfacing with homeless guests to educate fellow community members about their stories, and create support for long-term solutions

  • At-risk youth who are participating in community-based programs to work in paid internships assembling the Cardborigamis for shelter site use

Please explain how you will define and measure success for your activation.​

The primary success of our activation will be defined by the intended impacts on the Homelessness metric that were described in Q9, and will be measured in the following ways:

Increasing access to shelter for unsheltered homeless - distinct number of individuals who did not have a regular, sanctioned place to sleep before coming to a pop-up

Changing the paradigm on what emergency shelter looks like - amending the applicable municipal standards to account for outdoor solutions, and proving our site operations are compliant

Promoting a distributed geography of where such a resource can exist - our ability to create pop-ups in places where emergency shelter did not exist, especially locations that are prohibitive to easy transit

Expanding the capacity of homeless services outreach efforts - increases in new intakes and rates of follow-up for those already enrolled in system

Secondary success will be all about how we are able to engage Angelenos in the 2-yr activation. We will document and measure how effective we have been at mobilizing folks to:

Advocate for policy, via both digital and in-person means

Help us organize and plan pop-up sites

Volunteer onsite, and the number of unique volunteer roles we create at each site

Change their perspective regarding the issue of homelessness

Get involved with their Neighborhood Council (first-time)

Donate to our nonprofit to sustain our broader programming

Support other organizations working along the spectrum of housing for the homeless

Where do you hope this activation or your organization will be in five years?

It is our sincere hope that this activation will become a very self-generating tool / coordination plan for local communities and widely replicated in 5 years, not just in LA but across the state and hopefully other regions in the US. We want to contribute meaningfully towards increased buy-in by a large and diverse cross-section of the public towards new ways of drastically reducing homelessness, including support for the most important preventative, more affordable housing. We hope that the activation will have shown all stakeholders, regardless of their present views on how this crisis should be solved, that those who are homeless can be better connected to services when consistent shelter is provided, and that it takes localized situating of that shelter in order to engage local homeless individuals who have an attachment to place.


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