Unique Low Impact Treehouse

Jetson Green

The so-called Dom’Up is an innovative treehouse, which is easy to install, and has virtually no impact on the trees used to support it. It was created by Holland-based arborculturist Bruno de Grunne and architect Nicolas d’Ursel from the organization Trees and People. The treehouse can be used as an alternative to the classic treehouse, for glamping, or even as a treetop office, resort or even a cool restaurant.
The Dom’Up is a lightweight, UV-resistant canvas tent shelter that stretches over a 172 square foot (16 sq m) octagonal platform. The treehouse is suspended using Trees and People’s No Trace arboreal fixing system, which was designed with the idea of utilizing space between trees, rather than a single tree, since the former offers more space. Using more that one tree to support the structure also means the weight can be distributed more equally and therefore having very little negative impact on them.
The Dom’Up also features protective roofing, which is made from durable thermo-welded tarpaulin. The treehouse is quite spacious as well. It features an open interior space, which can act as both the living area and the bedroom. There is also a terrace at the front, which is large enough to accommodate a bed.
The skeleton of Dom’Up is made from galvanized steel, while the interior features natural wooden flooring. The treehouse also features external railing around the structure for additional safety and security. The wooden floors can also be removed and reinstalled, to prevent them from rotting in the winter or rainy periods. The house is accessible via a wooden ladder with handrails, custom made stairs, or a suspension bridge, depending on the site where it is placed.
According to the designers, the durability of the treehouse depends on the weather conditions, though they are certain the structure and tent will last for at least ten years. However, the suspension system ropes and straps should be replaced every five years. Dom’Ups ship worldwide, and cost roughly US$28,215 excluding installation. The latter needs to be done by an arborist or a member of the Trees and People network.

Not A Group House, Not A Commune: Europe Experiments With Co-Housing

Alfafar, a suburb of Valencia, Spain, is suffering from a poor economy and high unemployment. A quarter of homes are abandoned. Here, a cafe is still open on the ground floor of an abandoned municipal building in Alfafar's Orba neighborhood, but upper floors used to house shops. A pair of Spanish architects hopes to revitalize the high-density housing in this working-class area.
Alfafar, a suburb of Valencia, Spain, is suffering from a poor economy and high unemployment. A quarter of homes are abandoned. Here, a cafe is still open on the ground floor of an abandoned municipal building in Alfafar's Orba neighborhood, but upper floors used to house shops. A pair of Spanish architects hopes to revitalize the high-density housing in this working-class area.
Lauren Frayer/NPR
This is the latest story from the NPR Cities Project.
In an abandoned building near Spain's Mediterranean coast, someone softly strums a guitar. Chord progressions echo through empty halls.
It's an impromptu music lesson, offered among unemployed neighbors in Alfafar, a suburb south of Valencia. The town was built in the 1960s for timber factory workers. It's high-density housing: tidy, identical two- and three-bedroom apartments, in huge blocks — some 7,000 housing units in total.
But the local timber industry has since collapsed. More than 40 percent of local residents are now unemployed. A quarter of homes are vacant. Apartments that sold for $150,000 decades ago are going for 20,000 now.
That guitar lesson is just one way residents are using their free time and empty space creatively. It's here that two young Spanish architects saw potential.
The Improvistos architects' plans involve revamping the apartments, with minimal structural changes. Neighbors would be able to trade rooms, and share kitchens, roof gardens and office space.i
The Improvistos architects' plans involve revamping the apartments, with minimal structural changes. Neighbors would be able to trade rooms, and share kitchens, roof gardens and office space.
While still in architecture school, María García Mendez and Gonzalo Navarrete drafted a plan to re-design a high-density area of Alfafar, called Barrio Orba, using the principle of co-housing — in which residents trade and share space and resources, depending on their needs.
"It's like up-cycling the neighborhood — connecting existing resources to make them work," García explains. "For example, all this workforce that's unemployed, all these empty spaces that are without use, all these elderly people that need help, all these natural resources that are not being taken care of — making a project for all these things."
Through their architecture startup Improvistos, García and Navarrete submitted their Orba design to U.N. Habitat, a United Nations agency holding a competition for urban mass housing. They won.
Redefining Public And Private Space
The architects, both in their 20s, were relatively unknown, working in a Spanish region — Valencia — that's famous for soaring space-age designs of museums and other public infrastructure — which have bankrupted the local government.
Valencia's native son is Santiago Calatrava, the famous Spanish architect who's now working on the new ground zero transit station in New York.
In contrast to Calatrava's work, the Improvistos architects sketched out a humble plan to revamp some 7,000 nearly identical apartments, with minimal structural changes, to adapt the current structures to residents' changing spatial needs. Neighbors can trade rooms and share kitchens, roof gardens and office space.
Architects María García Mendez and Gonzalo Navarrete sketch out plans to revitalize high-density urban housing in Alfafar, Spain.i
Architects María García Mendez and Gonzalo Navarrete sketch out plans to revitalize high-density urban housing in Alfafar, Spain.
Courtesy of Improvistos
"We're trying to redefine the limit between public and private," Navarrete says. "So the way you walk on your street and where your house and your private space finishes or starts."
"A thing as simple as creating a new door — having a room with two doors — can give enormous flexibility," García chimes in. "So that this same room can be used by one or another, depending on the need."
Their plan also has a time bank element, trading space for services.
"For example, you have an 80-year-old person who needs some help once or twice a week, [living alongside] a family with three children that doesn't get enough income," García explains. "So maybe [someone from] the low-income family can help the elderly person once a week, and get, in exchange, one room. It's like an exchange system — so every house can gain or give out some space. And that can change with time."
The Improvisto architects in Alfafar plan to sit down with residents and sketch out how their buildings can adapt to different families' needs. They can add doors, retractable walls and shared space.
García and Navarrete came up with the idea on a study trip to rural India — watching how a poor family would enlarge their thatched hut for new children and share cooking areas with neighbors. The architects think that system can work in the West as well.
Collective Living In Rural England
One place it's already working is on England's southwest coast, amid picturesque rolling fields. A decade ago, Jane Stott helped create the Threshold Centre at Cole Street Farm, a community that consists of a central 300-year-old farmhouse surrounded by small, low buildings that house about 15 residents.
The goal here is quite different from in Spain: This isn't about revitalizing an existing neighborhood; it's about creating something new. People have come to the Threshold Centre for a variety of reasons, ranging from a desire to live in an environmentally sustainable way to the meditative aspects of living with others.
There are some echoes of life on a commune at the Threshold Centre, where there's an optional group meditation each morning and the residents raise chickens.
About 15 people live at the Threshold Centre at Cole Street Farm, a shared living space in the Dorset countryside on England's southwest coast.
About 15 people live at the Threshold Centre at Cole Street Farm, a shared living space in the Dorset countryside on England's southwest coast.
Ari Shapiro/NPR
But everyone also has a day job: Among the residents are a nurse, a gardener and a social worker, for instance.
More broadly speaking, each co-housing community is different: Some are very religious; some are very environmentally friendly; some have lots of children; some have lots of seniors.
The movement is growing. Stott says that when she founded the Threshold Centre 10 years ago, she could count on one hand the number of British co-housing arrangements. Now there are more than 35.
Real Solutions For Real People
But the idea is a newer one in Spain, and residents in Alfafar have many questions. Over a traditional Valencia paella, residents of the Orba neighborhood discuss the plan. Some ask how the value of a home would change with the addition or subtraction of a room.
But in general they say they're intrigued by the plan — and flattered that the two architects chose their neighborhood for it. Most of Orba's residents have been living side by side for decades. They're not strangers.
Take Nacho Campillo and Patricia "Patri" Sanchez, a couple in their early 30s. They've lived in Orba for eight years and took over Sanchez's grandmother's apartment there when she died. The flat hasn't been renovated since the 1960s.
But the young couple wants to stay in the neighborhood. Sanchez spent her childhood there and loves it — but they need more space. They have a small two-bedroom on the fourth floor with no elevator — and Sanchez is three months pregnant.
"Going up and down four flights of stairs is tiring now, and I'm not sure I'll be physically able to do it when I'm nine months pregnant!" Sanchez exclaims. "And what about the baby's stroller?" she says, exchanging a look with her partner and laughing.
But co-housing may help. The couple may "borrow" a ground-floor bedroom from a neighbor for the last few months of Sanchez's pregnancy — or for stroller storage afterward. The couple currently uses their second bedroom as a home office. But the addition of a shared co-working hub in the apartment complex would free up space for the baby's nursery.
Fusion Of Architecture And Social Policy
People in working-class Alfafar aren't used to getting attention from award-winning architects. Mayor Juan Ramon Adsuara says he's surprised and bewildered by all the interest — but proud his town has been chosen by the architects and awarded the U.N. prize.
"It's not just an architecture project. It's a fusion of architecture and rehabilitation. It's social policy," Adsuara says. "Architecture is not just for big star projects like museums. It's for the slums around them, too."
The big question, though, is how to pay for all this. The U.N. award comes with fame, but no funding. The mayor says the town hall struggles to pay for basic services — let alone a progressive architecture revamp.
"I need to make payroll for municipal employees — the cleaning staff, the garbage collectors," Adsuara says. "But our economy is improving. We need to think about what model we want for our town's future, and that's where this project comes in."
The Improvistos architects have no price tag for their design. It's adaptable — based on what residents want. They hope to begin workshops this spring to sketch that out. The mayor is applying for funding from the European Union to help launch this project — and also add bike lanes throughout the city. García and Navarrete are also thinking about launching a Kickstarter crowd-funding campaign. Residents have volunteered to even do some of the renovation work themselves.
Among all of them, they're determined to change this neighborhood for the better.

Ignored or Destroyed by Most, Tent Cities Get More Permanent

Seattle is one of only a handful of places that formally recognizes and regulates homeless encampments.

A homeless encampment in Seattle, photographed in 2012.
A homeless encampment in Seattle, photographed in 2012. AP
Like many other metro areas in the mid-2000s, Seattle’s King County set out to end homelessness within 10 years. Far less common, though, was a policy enacted in Seattle to permit homeless encampments, also known as tent cities, to deal with limited shelter capacity. After a decade, homelessness hasn’t gone away completely, and neither have the tent cities. If anything, they’re becoming more permanent.
Homeless encampments in the U.S. are at least as old as the Great Depression, when Seattle and other American cities saw the rise of so-called “Hoovervilles.” Encampments again started sprouting up in King County in the 1990s, but officials worked to convince camp organizers to shut them down in exchange for shelter elsewhere. But when King County was planning its blueprint to end homelessness around 2004, a local coalition pushed to formalize a permitting process for encampments that made them temporary, limited their residents, required sponsorship by an outside organization and regulated conduct within camps. The county largely adopted those recommendations. In late 2014, it agreed to extend them for another decade.
At least five King County camps now have legal status. Homeless encampments are hardly isolated to Seattle, though the area is among only a handful of places that formally recognize them. Another 10 or so camps across the U.S. fall into “semi-sanctioned” status, the equivalent of local officials looking the other way or providing at least some support, according to a report last year from the National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty. The report found at least 100 nonsanctioned encampments in existence across the U.S., though there are likely more.
Many cities have moved to shutter these types of camps. San Jose, Calif., in December demolished what had been the largest tent city in the country, a 300-person encampment known as the Jungle. And a report from a Hawaiian council on homelessness has discouraged Honolulu from taking on encampments by arguing that they detract from the goal of putting people in permanent housing. But advocates of formalized encampments say they’re a valuable -- albeit temporary -- way to address the problem of homelessness. For one, they provide a sense of community and mutual support for residents. In some ways the camps make it easier for homeless people to work, because they can leave their belongings in one place and don’t have to worry about shelter curfews. Camps can also more easily accommodate entire families. And they don’t interfere with officials’ broader mission of building more affordable options and intervening before people lose their homes, says Mark Putnam, who heads Seattle’s coalition to end homelessness.
King County has barely spent a dime on the camps, pledging only recently to spend $300,000 on support services. Instead, the county is studying its options for providing permanent affordable housing, including micro-housing projects like Olympia, Wash.’s Quixote Village, a former tent city that’s now home to 30 individual 144-square-foot cottages for rent. Quixote cost a total of $3 million, but those types of developments alone won’t be enough to deal with the issue of affordable housing, says Seattle City Councilmember Sally Bagshaw. A lasting solution will require the public and private sectors working in tandem, she says. “I don’t pretend to think we’ll suddenly have space for thousands of people [through government-led micro-housing],” she says. “The private industry will have to get involved with that.” Until then, at least, the tent cities are here to stay.

Chris Kardish  |  Staff Writer

Thank you for Making the 2015 Family and Youth Conference a Success

February 24,
ISSUES  |  POLICY  |  SOLUTIONS  |  NEWS & EVENTS Forward Editor: Emanuel Cavallaro

Spotlight On...
Thank you for Making the 2015 Family and Youth Conference a Success

The Alliance staff would like to extend a heartfelt thank you to all the attendees, speakers, and volunteers who helped make the 2015 National Conference on Ending Family and Youth Homelessness in San Diego a success. We are honored that the Secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), Julián Castro, and Speaker of the California State Assembly Toni G. Atkins addressed our conference, and we are grateful to all the experts from across the country who contributed to the event by sharing their knowledge on ending homelessness. We truly could not have done it without you.

HUD issued additional guidance on Friday, Feb. 20, in the Equal Access to Housing in HUD Programs Regardless of Sexual Orientation or Gender Identity final rule. According to this 2012 rule, HUD requires all HUD-funded housing programs to serve people regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity. The new guidance, which is based on the practices of housing programs, research on transgender discrimination, and the experiences of clients and providers, addresses the appropriateness of inquiries related to the placement of transgendered persons in single sex facilities, privacy considerations, and ongoing staff training.

The Alliance has published an online infographic based on the "Core Components of Rapid Re-Housing," a resource that outlines the three components every a rapid re-housing program must have to serve homeless families successfully: housing identification, rent and move-in assistance, and case management and services. The infographic is meant to serve as a visual aid for educating partners and other interested parties about the core components. The Alliance developed the core components in collaboration with United States Interagency Council on Homelessness (USICH), the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), and HUD.


The National Alliance to End Homelessness is a nonpartisan, non profit organization dedicated to solving the problem of homelessness and preventing its continued growth.


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Visit the Center for Capacity Building to learn more about the ways the Center can help your community end homelessness.

   In the Media

Final Reminder: Webinar on Strategies to Increase Health Insurance Enrollment for People Who Are Homeless - February 24, 2015 2 PM EST

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U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development HUD Exchange Mailing List

Final Reminder:
Webinar on Strategies to Increase Health Insurance Enrollment for People Who Are Homeless - February 24, 2015 2 PM EST

Don’t miss your opportunity to listen live to this important webinar featuring national leaders who will provide firsthand information on how to increase enrollment in Medicaid and other health insurance options.
This webinar will present a range of opportunities and strategies designed to support organizations serving homeless populations in their efforts to enroll clients in available health insurance, including Medicaid. The webinar will provide specific steps that organizations can take to overcome barriers to enrollment and it will provide detailed information on how to facilitate access to enrollment and health care. Key subject matter experts and leaders in this field will showcase their work.
Panelists include: Jessica Kendall, Director of the Enrollment Assister Network, FamiliesUSA; Barbara DiPietro, Director of Policy, National Health Care for the Homeless; Katie League, Outreach and Enrollment Coordinator, Baltimore Health Care for the Homeless; and Kristin Lupfer, Project Director, SAMHSA SOAR TA, Policy Research Associates.

Who Should Attend?

This webinar primarily targets agencies administering HUD-funded CoC and HOPWA housing and supportive services. It will be particularly relevant to administrators and program planners responsible for developing agency-specific protocols and those who participate in community-level systems planning and development.
This webinar is also open to the following U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) grantees due to their key role in collaborating with HUD’s grantees to address the healthcare needs of people experiencing homelessness:
  • Health Resources and Services Administration’s (HRSA) Ryan White and Health Center grantees;
  • Administration for Children and Families’ (ACF) Runaway and Homeless Youth Program grantees;
  • Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s (SAMHSA) Targeted Homeless and HIV Programs grantees.  

Participants will learn:

  • The opportunities available under the Affordable Care Act for the participants in their programs to access health insurance.
  • The role of Enrollment Assistors and Navigators in their communities who can help participants enroll in available insurance.
  • Successful strategies to conduct outreach, engagement and enrollment on the local level.
  • The important link between Social Security Disability and Medicaid, particularly for people with disabilities.
  • The impact SOAR technical assistance can have on access to mainstream resources and how CoCs can link to existing SOAR resources.

Registration Instructions:

The webinar is limited to 1,000 participants and registration is required to join the webinar.
To register, please complete and submit the Webinar Registration Form. Once registered, you will receive a confirmation e-mail with the webinar meeting link and call-in number.
If you are unable to participate in the webinar you can still view it at a later time. The webinar will be recorded and available for future viewing on the HUD Exchange Training and Events page.
If you have any registration questions, please contact Marie Herb at (617) 266-5657 ext. 124 or mherb@tacinc.org
This webinar is part of a series of webinars being developed through HUD's Housing and Healthcare (H²) TA initiative. Sign up for the HUD Exchange Mailing List to learn about future webinars.

Don't Call Them Homeless Veterans! | Sharing Economy and Equity + Posts by Sarah Treuhaft, Amy Clark, Korrin L. Bishop, Pete Walker, Maria Foscarinis, Elisha Harig-Blaine, Catherine Seif, Brenton Huston, Jay Krammes, Melanie Lewis Dickerson, Heather Powers, Daleena Scott, Melanie Zamora, and more!

Tuesday February 24, 2015

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Brandee McHale appointed president of the Citi Foundation and director of corporate citizenship for CitiMs. McHale first joined Citi in 1991, serving for more than two decades in a variety of business management and philanthropy-related leadership roles, including Chief Operating Officer of the Citi Foundation

Learn more about Brandee here 


Reduce Your Organization's Monthly Loan Payments Webinar
Presented by Capital Impact Partners
March 3 
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People & Places 

2015 Community Conference
What's Working in Emerging Neighborhoods?
March 4-6
Washington DC

Reclaiming Vacant Properties Conference
The Center for Community Progress conference will be held in Detroit, Michigan on May 19-21

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From the National Community Land Trust Network
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March 6
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From the Print Issue

Don't Call Them Homeless Veterans
By Amy Clark, National Housing Conference
Surprising insights on messaging from the front lines of NIMBY.  More 

Why Veteran Homelessness Will Return
By Maria Foscarinis, National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty
Federal funding to end veteran homelessness has had a real impact, but the impact will be temporary unless... More 

Salt Lake City Walks the Collaboration Talk to Serve Vets
By Melanie Zamora, The Road Home
When Salt Lake City committed to ending veteran homelessness, its agencies had to be willing to change and work together in ways that weren't always easy...  More 

If We Can't End Homelessness for Veterans, Then for Whom?
By Elisha Harig-Blaine, National League of Cities
We are so close to this goal. We should not change our focus before we show we can meet it.  More 

Ending Veteran Homelessness: A Goal with a Plan
By Catherine Seif, National Alliance to End Homelessness
The Obama administration's campaign to end veteran homelessness involves unprecedented cross-agency collaboration, a willingness to embrace new methods, and substantial resources. It's a combination that just might work.  More 

One Mission, One Stop for Veterans in Denver
By Brenton Hutson, Jay Krammes, Melanie Lewis Dickerson, Heather Powers, and Daleena Scott
Veterans often have to go to many places for services, but Denver succeeded in doing something different...  More 

Short-Term Funds With Long-Term Impact
By Korrin L. Bishop, Abt Associates
The changes that stimulus funding made in Lane County, Oregon's homelessness prevention will last past the funds themselves-but they could have a lot more effect, especially for veterans, if federal funding continued. More 

One Veteran's Story
By  Keli TiangaShelterforce
Michael Powell's journey from childhood poverty to military service and subsequent struggle with addiction is probably not unlike thousands of others who have served; but in listening to his story, you realize that somewhere along the way it may have become more complicated than it needed to be. More 

Implementing Vouchers for Veterans
By Pete Walker, Housing Authority of DeKalb County
A look at what HUD-VASH supportive housing vouchers can do, from the perspective of one of the agencies administering them.  More 

Read more from Shelterforce's latest issue, Almost Home, all about veterans issues.

Book Review

Review: More Than Shelter: Activism and Community in San Francisco Public Housing by Amy L. Howard
By James Tracy, San Francisco Community Land Trust

This book is a powerful antidote to the one-dimensional portrayal of public housing residents and the context of their lives. She takes a long view of the San Francisco Housing Authority (SFHA), from its founding in 1938 to current times. The book investigates three important SFHA developments: Valencia Gardens, Ping Yuen, and North Beach Public Housing... Read the full review here.

Can We Bend the Sharing Economy Toward Equity?
By Sarah Treuhaft, PolicyLink
We've all heard the stories. Homeless Homejoy cleaners. Uber drivers on food stamps. Grad students Airbnb-ing their extra rooms in gentrifying neighborhoods to cover their own rent. How can we make the sharing economy actually equitable?  More 

Featured Resources

In the new book Diversity Explosion: How New Racial Demographics are Remaking America, William Frey highlights the "bottom up" demographic change that is occurring in the United States as today's youth are considerably more racially diverse than previous predominantly white generations.

This interactive map illustrates this point by mapping the racial composition of different age groups at the county and metropolitan area scales.

Worst Case Housing Needs: 2015 Report to Congress - Executive Summary

Worst case needs are defined as renters with very low incomes-below 50 percent of the Area Median Income (AMI)-who do not receive government housing assistance and who pay more than one-half of their income for rent, live in severely inadequate conditions, or both. Worst Case Housing Needs: 2015 Report to Congress examines the causes of and trends in worst case needs, using the most recent data from the American Housing Survey. Read it here

The Answer

Q: Do Section 8 voucher holders increase crime in a neighborhood?


This is a perennial fear, but researchers at NYU's Furman Center took a really close look at the data to see, when controlling for other factors, if there was any association between an increase in Housing Choice Vouchers and the crime levels in that neighborhood....

Read more and download The Answer here!

Looking For A Job?

Program Officer, Sustainable Environments
Surdna Foundation: New York, NY

The Program Officer is part of a four-person team led by a Program Director and staffed by two Program Officers and a Program Associate. The Program Officer works closely with the team on all aspects of the program, including day-to-day operations, broader program strategy development, and the implementation of a learning agenda... More

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Center on Budget and Policy Priorities 

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New Arrivals

Building Together: Case Studies in Participatory Planning and Community Building
By Roger Katan
With case studies of neighborhood developments from North and South America, Europe, and Africa that span more than forty years, this book offers essential understanding of participatory, collaborative processes that support civil society and sustain democratic cultures.

Community Projects as Social Activism: From Direct Action to Direct Services
By Benjamin Shepard
With the correct guidance and a well-researched plan, it is possible to create lasting positive change in our local communities. This book draws on Shepard's experience as a successful community organizer to inspire and direct readers to use community activism to achieve change.

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