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The BLOCK Project
What is it?
Our vision is to help end homelessness by building a small home (BLOCK
Home) for someone in need on every residential block in Seattle. Through this
we hope to enhance relationships and create thriving communities that come
together to support one another.
The BLOCK Project is supported, funded, and built by community. There are
thousands of volunteers that have given their time to this project since it’s
launch in 2017. From building homes to donating lunches, computing energy
modeling to hosting a BLOCK Home in their backayrd, the BLOCK Project
creates a pathway for everyone to get involved in ending homelessness.
We are a Seattle based project and run by the non-profit Facing
Homelessness. At the end of 2019 there will be nine BLOCK Homes complete
and thousands of lives touched.
left: BLOCK Home 0002, with resident C’zar
watering his garden.
middle: BLOCK Home 0001 under construction.
right: BLOCK Home 0001 completed.
left: BLOCK Home 0007 under construction.
middle: BLOCK Home 0009 under construction.
right: BLOCK Home 0002 under construction.
left: BLOCK Home 0006 under construction
middle: BLOCK Home 0004 getting craned into a
right: BLOCK Home 0005 near completion.
BLOCK Homes are 125 square foot Detached
Accessory Dwelling Units. They are fully
functioning units, including a kitchenette and
bathroom with running water, heat, sleeping and
sitting area, storage, and a covered front porch.
Each BLOCK Home has drawn countless helpers, from contractors and material suppliers,
to landscape architects and corporate companies donating time to help prepare a
backyard for construction. Behind the scenes are volunteer lawyers, engineers, architects,
and case-management agencies to name a few. While the list continues to grow, here are
a few notable partners of The BLOCK Project:
Chief Seattle Club, Community Psychiatric Clinic, Mary’s Place, Davis Wright Tremaine,
Allen Law Group, Suzanne Skinner, Columbia Legal Services, Turner Construction Company,
Karlstrom Associates, Schultz Miller, Gradwohl Construction, Molior, Oliver & Blue
Construction, Nexus, FSi Consulting Engineers, International Living Future Institute, The Miller
Hull Partnership, Nexus, Herrera Environmental Consultants, Swenson Say Fagét, Premier
Mechanical, Level 5 Inc, Diamond Pier, Contemporary Cabinets, David McGeoy Furniture,
Weatherholt, Prime Electric, Tughan Electric, Cascade Integration
West Seattle Natural Energy, Sphere Solar, Northwest Electric & Solar, JH Kelly, Best Plumbing,
Evolved Structures, Gardenstone Masonry, Quercus Landscapes Inc
Top Line Counters, Architectural Coatings, Mantis Manufacturing, Pacific Sheet Metal, D4
Sheet Metal, Precision Metal Fabricators, Allworth Design, GGN, MITHUN, City Wide Fence Co.,
The Bartlett Tree Experts, POSSIBLE, Blake Roberts Design, The Cloud Room, Lumafox Creative,
MyPad3D & MXTreality, Visual Quartet, Don Jensen Video, ARC Reprographics
Smartsheet, Timecounts, Gray Magazine, Flatstick Pub, Gather Seattle Eden Photography,
Windermere, Zillow, Amazon Home Entertainment Team, Katerra, CWS Apartments, Koru,
Microsoft, Likelihood, Cafe Allegro, Architects Without Borders, Plumbers Without Borders,
AIA Committee on Homelessness, Seattle Department of Construction and Inspections,
Seattle and King County Public Health Department, Seattle City Councilmember Bagshaw’s
Office, The Bullitt Foundation, Tableau, Pearl Jam, Dowbuilt, Karlstrom Associates, Dovetail,
Lockhart Suver, Method Construction, Toth Construction, Krekow Jennings, Roberts Group,
Skanksa, Marinakos, Plywood Supply, Issaquah Cedar and Lumber, Northwest Custom
Interiors, Calportland, Goldfinch Brothers, Distinctive Glass, Second Use, Euroclime, Eastside
Insulation, Superior Insulation, L&B Nurseries, Oxbow, D4 Sheet Metal, Mighty Energy Solutions
and Ducoterra, American Standard, Lark, Tom Douglas, Stockbox, Seattle Cider, Two Beers,
University of Washington, Washington State University, Seattle Central College...
Built by Community
BLOCK Homes are designed to achieve the highest standard for sustainability in the built
environment (Living Building Challenge). The buildings will“give more than they take,”
creating a positive impact on human and natural systems. This shifts the paradigm on
homelessness, which people often see as a burden on the community and environment.
Sustainability is a cornerstone of The BLOCK Project, which is why we feel so fortunate
to have world-renowned partners including International Living Future Institute, The
Miller Hull Partnership, Herrera Environmental Consultants, the Bullitt Foundation, and
As part of obtaining Living Building Challenge, The BLOCK Project team convened 25
stakeholders (Residents, Hosts, engineers, city officials, and sustainability experts) to
brainstorm about how the BLOCK Home could be enhanced by biophilic design. The
group looked at the history, ecology, and context of Seattle, and brainstormed ways for
the BLOCK Home to be more harmonious with its site and engaging for its users. The
Charrette was extremely successful and produced a number of ideas that have been
incorporated into the BLOCK Homes design.
The closer we come to something and the more we understand, the more we value it.
The BLOCK Project wants to provide a little learning center for sustainability on each
block in the City. Each home is designed with a small footprint, energy efficient structure,
uses healthy and renewable materials, and has the goal of being net-positve with energy
and water! The design team has been working with local jurisdictions and some of the
best environmental engineers in the country to showcase how innovative systems can
be used and in turn, teach our communities about our invaluable resources.
The BLOCK Project is a grassroots initiative, and its success and growth hinges on the
community’s awareness, engagement, and continued support. Therefore, consistent and
captivating public outreach is critical. Time is spent hitting the pavement, doing things
like putting up posters in coffeeshops, handing out yard signs to neighbors, or giving
talks at local community centers.
How do you use your
helping end homelessness
Pacific Science Center
The BLOCK Project believes that in order to make true change, we must engage and
educate future generations. The Pacific Science Center gave us a beautiful opportunity
to share our story and dreams with a younger audience; showcasing a full-scale BLOCK
Home, a video about Living Building Challenge, and stories and displays about those
living homeless in our community. All of this centered around how one person can
inspire large change through innovation!
Learning as we go
BLOCK Home Version 1.1
In June 2019 we designed and facilitated our first annual BLOCK Host Training, where all
current and future Hosts gathered to form a powerful community and learn more about
what this journey entails. Educational topics included: Trauma-informed care, nonviolent
communication, mental health, cultural humility, and compassionate boundaries. This
was also a great opporunity for existing hosts to share stories and experiences.
Nearing the completion of the first nine BLOCK Homes, and with a Workshop space on
the horizon, the design team decided to reevaluate design. In an effort to bring many of
great minds to this redesign, BLOCK Architects facilutated a charrette for 22 designers,
contractors, engineers, assembly-line designers, industrial designers, weatherproofing
consultants, and sustainability experts. Dozens of great ideas came from the four-hour
meeting, ultimately guiding the BLOCK Home Version 1.1 design set to launch in 2020.
This project has a clear vision, but it also has lots of room to learn and grow. Everyone is
invited to make this project and our city a better place, which is why The BLOCK Project
seeks out opportunities like working with the local schools, hosting charrettes, and sitting
on public panels. A few of our these events are listed below: