Yale Students Build Affordable Housing for the Homeless

Design and advocacy go hand in hand. There are many ways that design proves itself to be beyond aesthetics; it targets sustainability, promotes awareness, juggles being eco-friendly and multi-functional, and generally allows for an explosion of ideas. And sometimes, it doesn’t just save the planet. It saves the people in it, too. Witnessing to that are some great projects such as these portable origami tents or this efficient flooring system, especially built for refugees and the homeless.

Architecture students from Yale have worked on the same advocacy as they designed and built an affordable shelter for homeless people. The affordable housing project is part of an ongoing university tradition.

The 1,000-square-foot house for the homeless is a handsome prefabricated structure clad in cedar and topped with a standing-seam metal gable roof. According to the project statement, students were “challenged to develop a cost-efficient, flexible design that tackles replicability in material, means, and method of construction.” The house comprises two separate dwellings: one is a studio, while the other is a two-bedroom apartment with built-in storage.

Every year, the university tasks first-year architecture students to design and build structures that will benefit the community. The tradition has apparently been going on since 1967. For the project’s 50th iteration in 2017, some students that participated in the Jim Vlock First Year Building Project chose to explore cost-efficient and flexible design in giving affordable housing to those who need it the most. They executed their plans and successfully constructed the building at New Haven’s Upper Hill neighborhood.

The project also marked the first partnership between the Yale School of Architecture and the non-profit Columbus House, an organization that has been providing solutions to homelessness in the New Haven area since 1982.

If all school projects had this much impact and advocated this strongly for the betterment of the community, I probably would’ve been more motivated to get that A.

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Cop Transforms Station Into Kitten Shelter

Some people may have big shoes to fill, but never leave out the chance to do good. In a courageous attempt to save endangered penguins, the Chilean government snubbed a billion-dollar mining project. On the other side of the world, policewoman Gretchen Byrne is transforming the Boca Raton station into an awesome kitten shelter.

“I will get three breaks: A 40-minute lunch break and two 10-minute breaks. Instead of going for pizza with my colleagues I use that time to run to the station and feed them,” she explained. “It all comes out of my paycheck at the end of the day but I don’t have kids so it is probably still cheaper than having kids.”

In just two years, Byrne has rescued 63 cats, knowing shelters would be too full to take them in. She uses Instagram as a platform to advertise her precious adoptables. Though her four-legged tenants can be rambunctious, Byrne claims they also help her to relax.

“The other thing is that is really nice to come home and have kittens to help me destress. I’m dealing with a lot of stuff on road patrol.”

If there is one thing we’re sure of, it’s that Byrne takes the notion of cat lady to a whole new level!

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Deaf Pit Bull Is Washington’s Newest K-9 Unit

There isn’t a lot that dogs can’t do, besides — of course — talk (although we wish they could). They’re keeping greenhouses safe and even proving to paraplegics that anything is possible. But unwanted pit bull Ghost is turning even more tables, becoming Washington’s first deaf K-9 officer.

“Barb found Ghost to be a very stable dog,” [said Jeremy] Barclay [of Washington State Dept. of Corrections]… “He was very focused and determined to locate his ball when thrown or hidden. This makes for a more trainable dog for drug contraband detection. His high energy was also key.”

The adorable pup was found as a stray, jumping from Swamp Haven Rescue to Olympic Peninsula Humane Society. Ghost now bunks in with handler Joe Henderson, keeping bad guys at bay in the morning.

“I think it’s wonderful that he has his forever home while benefiting the public safety of our citizenry,” said Barclay.

Ghost is definitely the good boy America needed.

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Portable Tents For Homeless Are Just Cardboard

For street-dwellers, a single blanket or free meal often goes a long way. What often makes the greatest impact is an occasional resting place, be it in a shelter or elsewhere. Still, this remains unlikely for most, but do-gooder Xavier Van der Stappen is revising that statistic. With the help of local factories, Van der Stappen designed portable origami tents for the homeless in Brussels.

“There are homeless people everywhere. When I saw them, it made me remember refugee camps in Africa,” said Van der Stappen, the man behind the ORIG-AMI project.

“It is a shame that in the 21st century there are still people living in streets in a very rich country like Belgium.”

The cardboard creations (ORIG-AMI), easy to dismantle, combat a ban against canvas tents and city camping. They will also provide temporary shelter to those rejected by overbooked hostels. Despite their early success, Van der Stappen continues to vie for a long-term solution to homelessness.

“I‘m not the person who is trying to solve it. I just try to find a solution for today, not for tomorrow,” he said.

For those not quite anticipating a tomorrow, ORIG-AMI makes a good contender for an interim home.

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Kid Sells Xbox To Donate Blankets To Homeless

Too often, we underestimate the giving nature of children. But kids like Jayden Perez, who ran a toy drive for Puerto Rican youths, are what give Generation Z a good rep. Continuing the streak is 9-year-old Mikah Frye, who gave up his Xbox One to purchase blankets for the homeless.

“He knew what it was like to not have a blanket at night and have to give it back,” said his grandmother, Terry Brant. “So the first thing he wanted to do is give a blanket that they could keep.”

Clearly, it was firsthand experience that encouraged Mikah to donate blankets (60 of them) to the needy. Moved by the gesture, tech giant Microsoft made a donation of their own — to Mikah. The generous preteen scored a brand new Xbox, and deservedly so.

“It’s just amazing, it’s a blessing, Mikah is a blessing to our family and we thank you very much,” said Brant.

Giving back is never about the rewards that come in return. But this one sure is swanky!

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Train Station To Shelter Homeless On Christmas

Homelessness continues to plague millions who remain under the poverty line. While the chances of a better life often remain slim, generous donors and establishments such as universities can make a difference. Opening its doors to 200 rough sleepers, the London Euston station will act as a shelter on Christmas Day.

“Many people become homeless because of relationship breakdowns so Christmas can be a particularly lonely time for some of our residents,” said Beth Norden, community and events manager at St. Mungo’s [charity].

Independently, the homelessness charity supports roughly 2,700 homeless people across the U.K. It may seem only a ripple in the water, but with over 300 ongoing projects, a single plate of food may save a life.

“This will be a fantastic fun day for our homeless friends that we will all hope could be replicated anywhere and everywhere.” Steve Naybour, of Network Rail, said.

Working over the holidays is all too much a reality. While nobody looks forward to late night shifts on Christmas, giving back could be a game-changer.

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Former Marine Trains Shelter Dogs To Help Veterans

Beyond the fluff, dogs are more than just a humble companion. They act as guides for both humans and animals (including cheetahs!). However, most therapy animals are purchased from breeders, not shelters. This former marine is training abandoned dogs to help veterans suffering from PTSD, giving both a second chance at life.

In 2014, [Chris Baity] and his wife, Amanda, 35, launched Semper K9 Assistance Dogs, which provides free, trained rescue animals to be the equivalent of battle buddies for veterans suffering from physical or mental disabilities.

The dogs are trained to detect oncoming anxiety attacks and distract owners until they are calm. Because of its success, Baity’s organization has been recognized across the nation.

The volunteer-run nonprofit earned Baity the 2016 Red Bandanna Hero Award, which recognizes those whose efforts have made a difference and enhanced lives in an extraordinary way.

Remember, folks — not all heroes wear capes. Or pants.

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Islamic Cultural Center Aids Homeless Awaiting Storm

With over 100 million on the streets, it’s places like Studio Elmo Vemijs that are providing them with temporary refuge. In the absence of shelters in Dublin, an Islamic center in Clonskeagh is welcoming anyone in need of sanctuary as Hurricane Ophelia hits.

“We provide food and soup,” said [administrator Malek Madani]. “It’s the minimum that we can do as humanitarians. We try to contribute along with council organizations, who have helped us with beds, too.”

One of the worst storms to hit Ireland in just over 50 years, Ophelia will likely be devastating. To avoid casualties, the city has closed schools, cancelled flights, and advised motorists to refrain from being on the road. Madani is encouraging other centers across Ireland to follow suit.

“They are part of society and they should too,” he said. “We never know [who will come during the storm] but we try to do our best.”

With over 100,000 homes off the power grid, the Islamic center is setting the benchmark for other groups.

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South Korea President Saves Rescue Dog

A few months ago, Canada became the first country to ban the sale of puppy mill animals in pet stores. This saw a rise in the adoption of shelter pets, including Tory the rescue dog. He now belongs to the South Korea president and is the nation’s new “First Dog.”

The president says the adoption shows “that both humans and animals should be free from prejudice and discrimination,”

Animal rights formed part of President Moon’s election campaign, where he pledged to build more playgrounds for pets and feeding facilities for stray cats.

President Moon Jae-in actively combats biases against black dogs in particular. Despite being rescued two years prior, Tory struggled to find a home for this very reason. However, Tory’s arrival was definitely well-received.

The minority Justice Party presented President Moon with a luxury dog bed, pointing out that the gift doesn’t count under anti-corruption laws as it was for the dog rather than the president himself.

Animal rights groups in South Korea continue to resist the dog meat trade. Lucky for Tory, he’s off the menu.

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Eliminate Mosquitoes With This Genius Bat House

Some animals have gone above and beyond to improve the lives of humans and give back to nature. They have helped restore forests and even acted as guides for other animals. Sometimes, they are indebted to us, and other times, we are to them. This genius bat house provides shelter to occasional visitors and also helps households eliminate mosquitoes.

Made of sustainably sourced, rot-resistant cedar, the four bat box models feature clean lines and angular edges.

Creators Harrison Broadhurst and Christoper Rännefors ensured that the boxes had features like grip pads, good ventilation, and appropriate spacing between interior panels.

Because bats are insect-loving mammals, you can also say goodbye to any potential mosquito problems.

Broadhurst and Rännefors founded the bat-friendly startup because of concerns over the spread of the Zika virus and an awareness that chemicals used to kill mosquitoes can also poison local wildlife. But the average bat can eat thousands of insects in a single night.

The bat house, playfully dubbed BatBnB, is a clever solution to backyard pests. And where I’m currently living? You can count me in.

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