A Kind-Hearted Man Is Reinventing the Homeless Living Situation in California
Lifestyle| | By Margo Gothelf
A man from California is using his natural eye for construction to help the less fortunate in his community.
Gregory Kloehn, an artist, plumper, and construction contractor from Oakland, California, has started a project to build small homes for the homeless in West Oakland, California.
The project started several years ago when Kloehn bought an iPhone. Using the iPhone’s camera, he began a photo project collecting pictures of the different structures the homeless had crafted for themselves. Kloehn compiled the photos into a book called, Homeless Architecture. After working on the book, Kloehn became acquainted with the homeless in his neighborhood and started to view them as people.
“Homeless people, they’re not really seen… I don’t want to say, ‘as human,’ but almost. I mean, they’re definitely [viewed] lower than second class citizens,” Kloehn shared with NationSwell.
Inspired by his new neighbors, Kloehn started collecting materials off the streets that were illegally dumped and began to create miniature homes, based on the structural designs of the homeless peoples’ homes.
“I really just ripped a page out of the homeless peoples’ book, their own game plan,” said Kloehn.
The first home that Kloehn completed came with wheels for mobility, windows, a lock, and a key. Kloehn gave the home to a homeless couple he met while taking photos for his book. He even gave the couple a bottle of champagne to celebrate their new residence!
Since building the first home, Kloehn has built over 35 miniature homes with the materials all mostly coming from garbage dumps. Kloehn began giving lectures about his project and runs several workshops that teach other artists how to build the homes. The lectures have inspired people in Los Angeles, Arizona, and other places abroad to start crafting the miniature homes for the homeless in their community.
“It’s really put me in tune with the homeless,” explained Kloehn. “Now, I see them as people. I know their name. I know their story. I know where they come from. I feel comfortable going up, chatting with them, just hanging out as a person.”
And the homes do not come without some sense of gratitude.
“If it wasn’t for Greg, we’d be still be sleeping on the ground,” said Oscar, one of the miniature home’s residents. “He’s got a big heart.”
Check out the video below to learn more about Kloehn’s project.