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The ADDR3SS | A Community for the Chronically Homeless

Updated: Feb 23, 2021

“We think sometimes that poverty is only being hungry, naked and homeless. The poverty of being unwanted, unloved and uncared for is the greatest poverty. We must start in our own homes to remedy this kind of poverty.”

Mother Teresa

Addressing homelessness today is more than just giving people a place of their own. It’s providing a space for an individual to be who they are, and a place with which to identify. Everyone has their own story and point of view.

“Chronically Homeless” as defined by HUD: An unaccompanied homeless person (a single homeless person who is alone and is not part of a homeless family and not accompanied by children) with a disabling condition (substance abuse disorder, serious mental illness, developmental disability or a chronic physical illness or disability) who has been homeless for a year or more or has had four episodes of homelessness in the last three years.

Locally, there are approximately 2,430 individuals in general homelessness with 650 of those being chronically homeless (nearly 3 times the national average). The social and financial costs are great. For example, the Birmingham Plan to Prevent and End Chronic Homelessness shares the story of one chronically homeless Birmingham man with heart failure and mental illness, who has suffered 44 preventable hospital stays and 36 emergency room visits during a 4 year period. During this time he accrued $334,275 in hospital charges, a cost absorbed entirely by local taxpayers. One thought that kept being restated through numerous interviews with top individuals leading the push for ending homelessness in our region: if there were single occupant homes with a combined monthly cost of $100 for rent and utilities, an individual’s chances of relapsing into homelessness would dramatically decrease. So that became the dollar mark for the project. Through further research, it was concluded that shipping containers were a viable solution for this project.

By choosing to work within the limits of the container the labor cost is held to a minimum. A full range of passive strategies were implemented, such as, sighting the containers to take advantage of prevailing breezes, keeping the exterior paint colors light, and using the containers to create self shaded courtyards and breezeways, even the cargo doors at one end are now reimagined as wind diverters.

We wanted to express that everyone here is someone unique and more than just a number on some survey. Not that numbers are without importance, especially to people trying to better themselves. The ADDR3SS offers durable, permanent, and ADA accessible single-occupant dwellings to the chronically homeless and unfortunate. Being situated downtown, optimizes access to support services and public transit, gives those people facing the hardest challenges as much support and advantage as possible. The ADDR3SS provides services and amenities like personal and community vegetable gardens, internet access, and semi-private and public social spaces, and is within walking distance of social programs, parks, and the public library.

With all the challenges facing these individuals, being unable to complete a job application for lack of an address was something that we thought could be remedied, and empowering. At The ADDR3SS you’re not just another number, you’re John from 203, or Susan from 304, but most importantly you’re home.

How do you define home? Let us know.

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