Sponsored by the AIA Minnesota Housing Advocacy Committee

The Minnesota Design Center (MDC) at the University of Minnesota, with funding from the Pohlad Foundation, has partnered with Hennepin Healthcare, Street Voices for Change, Alchemy Architects, the UMN School of Architecture, and Project for Pride in Living to develop a community-focused approach to housing Hennepin County’s homeless population. Called “Envision Community,” the project has developed a prototype housing unit, with the goal of building the first community in 2020. The energy efficient, SIP-paneled unit will be part of a 16- to 24-person compound sharing a common house and outdoor spaces. At the same time, the MDC has worked in the East Metro with a new nonprofit, Settled, and several religious institutions on another variation of a community-first approach to extremely affordable housing. Settled and the MDC have developed a prototype housing unit able to be built by the homeless population and members of the faith community, and we are pursuing the establishment of tiny home communities of houses on religious land, enabled by the Federal Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act. In both cases, innovations have occurred not just in the unit designs, but also in the funding and producing of these communities as well as in overcoming regulatory barriers.


Gabrielle Clowdus is the founder and executive director of Settled, a nonprofit organization dedicated to a community-first approach to extremely affordable housing. She is a Ph.D. candidate in Housing Studies at UMN and has an M.Arch degree from the NewSchool of Architecture & Design in San Diego, CA.

Thomas Fisher, Assoc. AIA, is a professor in the UMN School of Architecture, the Dayton Hudson Chair in Urban Design, and the director of the Minnesota Design Center at the UMN College of Design. Tom was recognized in 2005 as the fifth most published writer about architecture, having written 10 books, over 50 book chapters or introductions, and over 400 articles in professional journals and major publications. He has been named a top-25 design educator four times by DesignIntelligence.™

Jacob Mans, AIA, is an assistant professor in the UMN School of Architecture. His work focuses on the influence of large-scaled environmental systems on small-scaled building performance, looking at how building systems can spur local economic development.

Dewayne Parker, Street Voices of Change, which is comprised of groups of individuals who have current or past personal experiences with homelessness who come together to build community and make positive changes in the lives of people experiencing homelessness and the systems that contribute to and keep people in homelessness. SVoC started in September of 2016 with a dozen folks in one church and has grown into three overflowing groups that meet weekly at different member congregations of the Downtown Congregations to End Homelessness. The groups are a place where people invest in and empower each other to build a loving community that recognizes the trauma of homelessness and seeks to restore dignity in every aspect of the experience.

Dr. William Walsh has extensive training and experience as both an artist and a surgeon. This combined surgical and artistic training allows him to practice the full spectrum of facial plastic and reconstructive surgery in both children and adults.

Geoffrey Warner, AIA, is the founder and principal of Alchemy Architects. Educated in architecture at UMN, his completion of the first weeHouse in 2003 gained international attention as a symbol of architectural optimism. Since then, Alchemy has developed the weeHouse as a prefabricated answer for cabins, houses, offices, rooftop studios, and multi-unit developments, and has completed over three dozen prefabricated projects around the United States.

This event is part of A’19 MN The Minnesota Conference on Architecture.  Prior to the Creatively Housing the Homeless event you are invited to the A’19 MN Exhibit Hall in Hall D of the Minneapolis Convention Center.  The Exhibit Hall is open and free to everyone.  There will be fun, food, and entertainment!

Register to attend.

Contact Sheri Hansen for information.