Moving America Forward

Meet the Artist Turning One Man’s Trash into Another Man’s Home

August 15, 2014
Meet the Artist Turning One Man’s Trash into Another Man’s Home
Artist Gregory Kloehn wanted to build homes for homeless people and created these tiny shacks out of reclaimed wood. Homeless Homes Project
San Francisco's Gregory Kloehn is building mobile homes for the homeless.

When we call to mind the living conditions of the homeless, the images aren’t pleasant. We think of street corners and having to face the harsh weather conditions of every season. And while this is reality for most of those without homes, one man in San Francisco is working to change all of this.


San Francisco has more than 6,000 people without homes within its city borders. And, despite the existence of shelters and temporary and subsidized housing, more than half still reside on the streets.

That’s why artist Gregory Kloehn is working to reverse this trend through his Homeless Homes Project.


When on the streets, homeless people have to carry all of their belongings with them, which can be cumbersome and difficult to protect. So, Kloehn is making mobile homes, which are safe and private.

With these residences, the homeless can now sleep, wash and store their belongings without worry. While the homes range in size and design, they have three main things in common: they’re small, mobile and made from someone’s trash.

That’s right, in order to gather the materials to build the homes, Kloehn goes dumpster diving. He uses anything — showers, storage, seating, bike reflectors, and washing machine windows — to make the perfect home.


When designing the homes, Kloehn works to ensure that they are compact and flexible. Amenities include adaptability to rain or sun, as well as the ability to double as a vendor cart, allowing the resident to earn an income.

While creating a rent-free option for the homeless to help them avoid the high cost of living in San Francisco was a concern, Kloehn had another goal in mind. Ultimately, these homes are instilling pride and dignity in the homeless. With a place to call their own, the homeless no longer need to be embarrassed — a vital key in getting their lives back on track.


MORE: A Solution to Outdoor Urban Living, by Homeless People for Homeless People