live Finalist / 2019

Pop-Up Sites for Overnight Temporary Shelter: Serving our homeless neighbors with dignity first

Idea submitted in the My LA2050 Grants Challenge by Cardborigami, Inc.

Cardborigami will establish safe, managed, temporary shelter sites on secured premises of private property hosts, where our shelter structures will be set up in designated areas for nightly use by clients experiencing unhoused homelessness. Each individual or family will sleep in their own Cardborigami unit put up and packed down by community volunteers, have access to hygiene facilities, and be registered or continued in personalized case management by local homeless services providers onsite.


What does your organization do?

Cardborigami provides instant space to protect people from the elements through innovation and design. We connect displaced populations using our emergency shelter product to local service providers.

Briefly tell us a story that demonstrates how your organization turns inspiration into impact.

A personal testimony from Alexander, aged 19, who slept in a cardborigami over several nights in 2018 while a client at a 24/7 shelter for Transition Aged Youth in South LA:

“It’s a spacious design, sealed in heat nicely and blocked wind. I felt safe.”

Which of the live metrics will your submission impact?​

  • Rates of homelessness

In which areas of Los Angeles will you be directly working?

  • County of Los Angeles
  • City of Los Angeles

How will your project make LA the best place to live?

LA County has the highest absolute numbers as well as percentage (75%) of homeless who are unsheltered. 39,396 people did not have a sanctioned place to sleep as of the 2018 Homeless Count, which also showed first-time homelessness on the rise. Furthermore, the number of vehicles, tents and makeshift shelters has increased 32% since 2016. Considering these trends, Cardborigami intends to shift the paradigm on what an emergency shelter can look like, where it can be located, and how it can better serve and maintain dignity for those experiencing homelessness.

Emergency shelters are traditionally conceived as physical buildings within which people are aggregated into open sleeping arrangements. Two main problems of this approach:

brick-and-mortar facilities cannot be built or converted fast enough to meet the need, and mixing strangers in an ‘open-corral’ type environment can elevate anxieties. Instead of limiting the format of such shelter to permanent structures, we can reimagine how to use existing, underutilized spaces that can serve multiple uses, including as sites for temporary, quickly deployable shelter. Our shelters have been used in post-disaster situations domestically and internationally to assist residents with recovery and rebuilding, and we believe there is similar application to our local homelessness crisis.

Our target population encompasses unsheltered homeless who do not have access to safe, local shelter within reasonable reach by transit; those who have difficulty accessing services due to locational instability; those who decline traditional shelters; and those who need to fill a gap in availability transitioning between shelter stages.

While our pop-up sites will be open to the range of those fitting this description, we intend to organize the sites based on compatible sub-populations in consultation with partner service agencies. A person’s physical mobility to utilize a Cardborigami in comfort will also be considered. We are keenly interested in being an option for the first-time homeless, who may not be prioritized for shelter versus the chronically homeless, and who could benefit greatly from avoiding exposure to trauma in existing shelter settings.

Over the course of 6 to 8 months, at pilots operating consecutively at 2 different sites averaging 20-25 shelters per site, or an equivalent capacity within a 12-month timeframe using smaller sets of shelters spread across more sites, we plan to serve a minimum of 100 distinct individuals.

Quantitatively, our effectiveness will be seen in:

-Reduction in costs vs traditional emergency shelter

-Number of homeless clients who are continuously followed in case management for the duration of their stay

-Clients’ accelerated progress along the shelter spectrum towards permanent supportive housing

Qualitative impact will be evidenced by:

-Clients’ improvement in feelings of self-worth and agency

-Increase in positive engagements between clients and the local community

In what stage of innovation is this project?

Pilot project (testing a new idea on a small scale to prove feasibility)

Please explain how you will define and measure success for your project.

Beyond increasing the number of homeless sheltered, our goal is to provide an agile shelter solution to communities with unsheltered homeless that improves access to resources and accelerates transition.

A combination of onsite measurements, client-completed surveys and in-person interviews will be conducted to verify these key value components:

1) Privacy and stable shelter improves psychology of clients

-how clients feel, including personal outlook, after staying in their own Cardborigami

2) Reliable connection to service providers

-prior missed connections reported by both clients and providers

-clients’ moving frequency before stay at Cardborigami site

3) Shelters are easy to deploy and store at any site

-time and manpower to set up sites

-time and manpower to pack down sites

-how and where shelters are stored at host sites

4) Community engagement

-perceptions / attitude shifts towards those experiencing homelessness

-levels & types of stakeholder interaction with homeless neighbors before & after site