Tiny Home Villages Collaboration Honored with Fast Company

  • September 21, 2021
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2021 Innovation by Design Award: Housing advocacy collaboration recognized for cost-effective, streamlined approach to supporting vulnerable homeless populations

SAN FRANCISCO, Sept. 22, 2021 – DAHLIN Group Architecture Planning (DAHLIN), HomeAid Northern California and Firm Foundation Community Housing have received an Honorable Mention in Fast Company's Innovation by Design Awards for 2021 in the Social Good category. The joint Tiny Home Villages venture is recognized for its unique approach to delivering housing for those facing homelessness, a project that involved accelerated timelines for the design and construction of cost-effective shelters sited on church properties.

The Fast Company awards, now in their 10th year, recognize people, teams, and companies that transform businesses, organizations, and society through design. One of the most sought-after design awards in the industry, Innovation by Design is the only competition to honor creative work at the intersection of design, business, and innovation, recognizing the people, companies, and trends that have steadily advanced design to the forefront of the business conversation. The 2021 honorees include nearly 600 projects, products, and services from Nike, Verizon, Microsoft, and others.

"The Tiny Home Villages team has developed a tried-and-true formula for streamlining the housing process, reducing the timeline from start to finish to under two years, creating millions in savings–and most importantly, changing lives," said Rev. Jake Medcalf, Founder and Principal for Firm Foundation Community Housing. "This honor endorses the impact we've made in our community through inventive thinking and a shared commitment to ensuring a humanizing, dignified place for everyone."

Tiny Home Villages' success is attributed to its multipronged approach, which leverages each contributing organization's respective strengths to overcome obstacles that frequently sink truly affordable or supportive projects in the housing-strapped Bay Area. Firm Foundation Community Housing concentrates on working with faith-based entities, many sitting on large, underutilized land assets, to identify tangible opportunities to support the churches' people-centric mandates. HomeAid, whose mission is to end homelessness through housing and community outreach, serves as the charitable arm of the alliance, connecting builders and trade partners, like DAHLIN, who contribute both time and money to bring projects to life.

The result of these partnerships is cost-effective, prefabricated communities that provide shelter and support to the region's vulnerable homeless population. Relying on trade partners allowed Tiny Home Villages to take advantage of valuable industry insights and expertise when navigating different zoning jurisdictions, positively positioning projects in front of regulatory bodies, overcoming community objection, and informing building decisions. The Tiny Home plans now have state approval, making city/county inspections and plan checks move at a quicker pace.

"The San Francisco Bay Area is notorious for its lack of affordable housing, a challenge without a clear solution and exacerbated by the pandemic," said HomeAid Executive Director (retired) Cheryl O'Connor. "As the vulnerable homeless population swells, the unique partnership shared between the home building industry and faith-based organizations makes the difference when it comes to developing real solutions that quickly and efficiently bring resources to those most in need."

The Innovation by Design judges include renowned designers from a variety of disciplines, business leaders from some of the most innovative companies in the world, and
Fast Company's own writers and editors. Entries are judged on the key ingredients of innovation: functionality, originality, beauty, sustainability, user insight, cultural impact, and business impact.

Winners, finalists, and honorable mentions are featured online and in the October issue of Fast Company magazine, on newsstands Sept. 28, 2021. View the complete list here.

About DAHLIN Group Architecture Planning

DAHLIN is a San Francisco Bay Area-headquartered diverse architecture and planning practice of 150+ multicultural professionals who share a Passion for Place®. The firm works with developers, municipalities and private clients, focusing on numerous sectors including healthcare, senior living, civic markets and affordable housing. Since 1976, DAHLIN has been committed to excellence in design–best demonstrated through long-term client relationships and award-winning, financially successful and sustainable design solutions. The firm maintains offices in Pleasanton, Oakland, San Diego, and Irvine, California; Bellevue, Washington; and Beijing and Shanghai, China. Visit: www.dahlingroup.com.

About Fast Company

Fast Company is the only media brand fully dedicated to the vital intersection of business, innovation, and design, engaging the most influential leaders, companies, and thinkers on the future of business. The editor-in-chief is Stephanie Mehta. Headquartered in New York City, Fast Company is published by Mansueto Ventures LLC, along with our sister publication, Inc., and can be found online at fastcompany.com.

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