WHAT I HEARD at DESIGN FOR DIGNITY

On July 14th, we were delighted to have to have a diverse array of community leaders and housing advocates share their ideas and recommendations at the second annual AIA|LA DESIGN FOR DIGNITY conference.  We were especially excited to have Mayor Eric Garcetti deepen the tone as our keynote speaker.  His optimism and confidence was uplifting to hear.  As compassionate Angelenos, we have the talent, the insight and the resources to make a genuine difference to improve the lives of those in need and to ameliorate our housing crisis.  

AIA|LA takes this commitment seriously and we welcome your continued to support to work together on this vital effort. 

As a follow up, we will be convening a series of ad hoc working group meetings to prioritize an action plan to implement immediate next steps to help solve our housing challenge.

Please email Will Wright at will@aialosangeles.org if you’re interested in joining the "D4D Task Force".  We will organize a few meetings beginning in August.

At Design For Dignity, this is what I heard:

THIS WEEK (Immediate action)
  • Let’s humanize the dysfunction and dignify the current homeless population with hygiene amenities (mobile showers, restrooms, etc)
  • Calibrate our strategies to be based with real-world, community-based experiences.
  • Become better listeners.  
  • Establish a personal connection with someone that is homeless and learn more about their concerns.
  • Establish a personal connection with a so-called “NIMBY” and also learn more about their concerns, as well.
  • Build stronger communities through tours, events & programs, which will reduce ‘resistance’ to change on both sides.
  • Coordinate workshops to promote greater empathy.
  • Focus on the narrative.  Tell better stories. 
  • Create a more comprehensive inventory of affordable housing opportunity sites.
  • Build immediate (even if temporary) housing/ shelter.  MADWORKSHOP = Homes For Hope.
THIS MONTH (Let’s prioritize)

  • Establish programs that allow for temporary shelter to be placed on vacant lots and parking lots, especially as those sites are going through the entitlement process.
  • Celebrate and amplify design excellence.  Show better examples of how projects integrate successfully into the community.
  • Establish a smarter ‘marketing plan’ for how we are going to build more housing for all.
  • Streamline the permitting process and expedite affordable housing projects.
  • Revise our zoning code to make it easier to housing.
  • Reduce parking requirements, especially in transit-oriented communities.
  • Update academic curriculums to focus on the current housing crisis.
  • Innovate!!!  Leap frog the current condition with ‘moonshot’ ideas.
  • Remove gates and fences and other barriers that provide a false sense of safety and separate us from our community
  • Partner more often with faith-based organizations.

THIS YEAR (Let’s strategize)

  • Expand the housing production ‘system’ and all of the support-services and infrastructure required to administer the creation of housing.
  • Improve the building code to better embrace innovative housing solutions
  • Design more ‘open air’ homes and re-examine what a ‘home’ looks and feels like.
  • Create more open-source solutions that can be expanded at-scale.
  • Make it safe to fail.
  • Build COMPLETE COMMUNITIES to live, work, play and pray (inclusive of mixed-incomes and all demographics)
  • Create neighborhoods safe for children and our aging population.
  • Activate your community to give everyone a sense of purpose.
  • Empower residents to have greater pride in their neighborhoods and a deeper sense of ownership.
  • Celebrate the necessary tension between public and private interests. 
  • Build and maintain a more beautiful and less-stressful built environment.
  • Promote greater mental & physical health and wellness.
  • Establish a civic condition that allows a homeless person to have the ‘free choice’ to select an alternative other than living on the streets.
  • As we get ready to host the Olympics in 2028 (or 2024), let’s make sure that we are solving our housing crisis in tandem.
  • Focus on the “Missing Middle” and create incentives to build more workforce housing for middle-income (60 to 150% area median income)
  • Create stronger value capture tools on land when changing use, re-zoning, etc.
  • Expand Enhanced Infrastructure Finance Districts (EIFDs) to include affordable housing
  • Establish and clarify stronger and density-bonus programs.
  • Reform CEQA and Prop 13
  • Re-direct the public subsidy of the mortgage interest tax deduction (MID) towards local pots of money specifically earmarked for affordable housing production

Of course much more was shared during the presentation and over our lunchtime conversations.  We will have a chance to review these comments and to focus on a more concise and measurable action plan when we begin to meet as an ad-hoc working group.

If you took notes, as well - please share.  I’d love to hear your input and integrate your ideas into our action plan.

We are looking forward to working together with you on this initiative.

Very truly yours,

Will Wright, Hon. AIA|LA
Director, Government & Public Affairs
AIA Los Angeles
Last updated: 01-Aug-2017 10:32 AM
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