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Open Source Homelessness Initiative

The Open Source Homelessness Initiative (OSHI), founded by John Friedman Alice Kimm Architects, is an active database of reports, design principles, and art installations by, for, and in support of the unhoused population of greater LA. OSHI was founded in response to Friedman and Kimm’s realization that, while a number of architects, civic entities, and stakeholders were all trying to address homelessness in Los Angeles, they often kept repeating the same research, missing singular resources, and failing to work effectively and efficiently. OSHI is an attempt to fill this gap, and exists at the intersection of design, policy, and lived experience. Architects are encouraged to share best practices; people experiencing homelessness are encouraged to share their worlds; and citizens are encouraged to share resources. Four main pillars–art, projects, resources, and news/event–serve to create a central spine from which progress can be made. Designed to be an eternal work in progress, the website will soon have additional categories with increasing specificity, including a section dedicated to “stories,” meant to uplift the voices of unhoused individuals.The site also catalogs architecture projects that work to alleviate homelessness, leading to the open-source sharing of specific tools, methods, and approaches. A transparent focus on cost and financial source (and consequent feasibility) allows for such results to be replicated, and the projects range from a Net Zero Energy permanent housing complex that services disabled veterans to a supportive housing community constructed of shipping containers and financed by private capital.OSHI’s Resources are a collection of reports and sources that break down homelessness in statistical detail, displaying patterns, comparing wages and housing costs, and collecting studies that describe how race, gender, and other demographics factor into homelessness. The site also provides a list of helping organizations and defines key terms, delineating both the shared community and lexicon.The news/events section captures the breadth of news events impacting the plight of LA’s homeless population. Everything from changing trends or policy, new or effective volunteer efforts, design or initiatives that fell short or went above and beyond is caught in OSHI’s news net, which pulls from a myriad of local and national sources.Overall, OSHI seeks to highlight the humanity of individuals in precarious positions, recognizes the systems and policies that are helping or causing further harm, and exhibits the disproportionate positive effect of small or community-led efforts to eradicate homelessness. It aims to collect the best and most successful practices that previously siloed individuals have steadily developed over often decades of private work, and bring them into the light, for everyone to use.

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