Eviction to Empowerment: Shared Housing in Milwaukee's Urban Neighborhoods
Eviction is a powerful force that has come to shape the lives of many in cities across the country. Milwaukee is no stranger to the eviction crisis; the city was the subject of Matthew Desmond's bestseller Evicted, and here the legacy of redlining policies continues to shape the lives of residents, especially single mothers and their children who face disproportionately higher rates of eviction. This proposal for shared housing in a neighborhood that faces particularly high eviction rates is a form of cohousing that provides long term affordable housing and short term transitional housing, encouraging the sharing of responsibilities and providing a support system for single mothers and children. Levels of privacy are "nested" within the space, encouraging meaningful connections and providing a safe and empowering home for those who experience eviction.
Eviction to Empowerment received First Place in the 2021 AIA Ohio Student Design Awards. More information can be found here.
Through the process of interviews, data analysis, stories and anecdotes, it became evident that evictions correlated strongly with gender and socioeconomic lines. This data traces the eviction crisis to a very specific group of the population and later explores the consequences that these people face as a result.
"In Milwaukee, instead of relying on kin, many poor families rely on acquaintances or strangers—“disposable ties”—to make ends meet. Disposable ties facilitate the flow of various resources, but the bonds are often brittle and fleeting. The strategy of forming, using, and burning disposable ties allows families caught in desperate situations to make it from one day to the next, but it also breeds instability and fosters misgivings among peers."
Eviction rates are unsurprisingly correlated with current poverty rates and rent burdens, but its history is intimately linked to the history of redlining and historic patterns of disinvestment. Although these policies are no longer in place, the effects continue to linger and have detrimental effects.
The design for the space uses the concept of nesting symbolically through the simple and natural materials and structural connections, and the nesting of spaces within a larger whole.
A mass timber structure for the building increases the building’s efficiency, contributes to its sustainability by lowering its embodied energy, and contributes to the health of occupants through the material’s health and its aesthetics.