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Architect turns attention towards those without houses

Architect turns attention towards those without houses

A Seattle architect is concentrating less on building multimillion dollars homes, and more on helping the city’s homeless population, after a transformative encounter with a homeless man several years ago.

Rex Holhnbein made a habit of inviting local homeless people into his office, when one of the men offered to read him a children’s story he was working on. Enchanted by the story, Holhnbein made a Facebook page to bring attention to the man’s work, and ended up reuniting him with his long-lost children. From then on, Holhbein was committed to the work.

When he first began reaching out to the homeless, Hohlbein decided he wanted to use his camera to show the full dimensions of people living on the margins.

“There was this beginning thought that I wanted to somehow represent people that were living on the street, show their beauty — their physical beauty but also their beauty of person,” Hohlbein said.

His wife, Cindy Hohlbein, says this kind of empathy has always been a part of who Rex is.

“He loves people and he doesn’t care who they are, where they came from, what socioeconomic level they are. He just loves people,” she said.

Cindy, who teaches kids with developmental disabilities, says their household income has dropped as Rex shifted away from architecture the past couple of years (he’s now down to just two clients). But Cindy says working with the homeless is what makes him happy.

“It got to a point where Rex couldn’t justify necessarily putting all his energy into one more big, beautiful home when there’s people living on the streets,” she said.

Read more here.


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John B. Chilton

See also this story of how to build affordable decent housing for the homeless:

“What is wrong with the system is there is a fixation on addressing multiple social issues on the backs of poor people.”

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