A shortage of social housing remains one of the top issues in most countries, affecting the well-being of unemployed or low-income groups.  In an attempt to make a difference in his little way, Oakland, California based artist Gregory Kloehn has been creating miniature shelters for the homeless people using illegally dumped trashed.

Kloehn was intrigued by the idea of building such houses when he was first encountered by a homeless couple who knocked at his door for a tarp. While he didn’t have a tarp, Kloehn offered them a space in his tiny studio consisting of the bare basics.  Kloehn searches the neighbourhood for illegally dumped commerical trash, and gets his hands on everything that he finds useful. He utilizes everything from cargo pallets and window frames to pizza delivery bags and washing machine doors and and upcycles the trash  into walls, roofs, doors, windows, wheels and locks.

The results are vibrant miniature shelters that not only provide a roof to the homeless, but also builds hope and boosts their self-confidence.

“For myself, the work is about pushing an idea into the tangible world.  The working through process behind a piece and the play I have between a vision, materials and my abilities is the aspect I cherish most.  I like to have some crude essence of this making process to remain, leaving a residue of the moment for the viewer. Above all, it is good to laugh.  It loosens the air.  Issues can be present without overburdening the viewer.” explains artist Gregory Kloehn

The houses are extremely sturdy and are attached with wheels for portability and convenience. Most of the shelters appear like a cool creative piece of art with application of vibrant colours like pink, yellow, red and blue. Intelligent use of materials, like a rainproof roof created from discarded plastic sheeting and windows made from a washing machine door displays the artist’s ingenuity and resourcefulness. Kloehn’s initiative has evolved into the Homeless Homes Project, which aims at creating a difference in the society through creativity and ingenuity. Once the homes are constructed, they are given out to the homeless free of cost.  Someone’s trash is someone’s treasure! 

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All Images © Brian j Reynolds

Gregory Kloehn

Homeless Homes Project

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