Radian|PlaceMatters Inc

Radian is a women-led nonprofit architecture and urban design group with a mission to advance social equity in the built environment. Radian envisions a world where residents who have been traditionally underrepresented, have the agency, power, and resources they need to shape their own communities.

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Housing Solutions Design and Management: Tiny Homes and Safe Outdoor Spaces

Class

Community Development 

Beneficiaries

Adults
At-Risk Populations
Homeless
Native Americans
Poor, Economically Disadvantaged, Indigent

Description

Tiny Homes:

In response to Denver's housing crisis, Radian partnered with the Colorado Village Collaborative to move forward and scale creative approaches to housing vulnerable members of our community. Beloved Community Village, a tiny home village for people experiencing homelessness, is a viable mechanism that was implemented in July 2017 to house people in a temporary and transitional way so that they can take that next step towards permanent affordable housing. The village consists of 11 (8'x15') units, a shared bathing units (2 showers, 2 hand sinks, and 2 toilets), and a community space that helps support 15 residents.

As a result of existing zoning code requiring the village to be temporary, Radian designed Beloved Community Village to be off the grid, but at the same time being responsive to the power, sanitary, and fresh water needs of the residents. The structures were designed to be easily deployable and transportable but also standing up to the necessary building code requirements. In the first two and half months the village has seen absolutely no turnover in residency, compared the high rates in a traditional shelter system. Since the opening, the RiNo, Cole, and Curtis Park neighborhoods have welcomed the community with open arms. At present, 12 of the 15 villagers are employed, and 4 of those have gained employment since moving in to the village.

Safe Outdoor Spaces:

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Radian partnered with multiple organizations including the City and County of Denver, Colorado Village Collaborative, and The Interfaith Alliance to conceptualize, design, and build Denver's first Safe Outdoor Spaces (SOS). These sanctioned campsites provide secure, resource-rich environments for people experiencing homelessness. First Baptist Church of Denver, Denver Community Church, Regis University, and Park Hill United Methodist Church have made these sites possible by providing their land for lease.

Radian supported the Safe Outdoor Space initiative by providing architectural technical assistance in the design and implementation of the Safe Outdoor Spaces. This includes providing technical support with site selection, site plan development, project management, permit support, and site construction. Radian is committed to expanding the Safe Outdoor Space concept throughout Colorado. We continue to work closely with the current residents and service providers to improve the design as the initiative expands.

Photos

Evidence of Program's Success

In 2019, the Barton Institute for Philanthropy and Social Enterprise was commissioned to conduct an independent study on the ongoing impacts of the Village. The Center on Housing and Homelessness Research at the University of Denver's Graduate School of Social Work studied the Village residents and surrounding neighborhood between October 2019 and October 2020 and reported on the following project outcomes:

Villager Well-Being: Villagers reported lower levels of anxiety, depression, and hopelessness and higher levels of happiness and satisfaction when compared to people experiencing homelessness who did not live in the village.

Stable Housing: All former residents that participated in the study were stably housed 12 months after leaving the Beloved Community Village.

Employment: Villagers were 4x more likely to be working compared to the people in the control group who reported being unhoused.

Neighborhood Perspective: More than 85% of neighbors report having positive or neutral feelings about Beloved Community Village's overall impact on their neighborhood.

Police Activity: During the year that this study occurred, not one person in the neighborhood called the police about the village.

Finances: Beloved Community Village residents reported an increase in being able to save money, pay bills, and make payments on debt in the last six months as well as decreased theft of personal belongings.

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