The BLOCK Project: an Initiative to End Homelessness

The BLOCK Project invites community into the task of ending homelessness by placing a BLOCK Home in the backyard of one single-family lot on every residentially zoned block within the City of Seattle. Each 125 sq ft home is beautifully designed to be off-grid, self-sufficient, and amenity-rich (featuring a kitchen, bathroom, sleeping area, solar-panels, greywater system, composting toilet, etc.).


The BLOCK Project represents an innovative leap forward on the issues of homelessness, cross-class integration, social inclusion, and architectural design. The BLOCK Project is a housing initiative and a community building project. Through its integrated design, this project will not only offer opportunities for healing and advancement to those formerly living on the fringes of society, but it will also bring connection, relationship, and compassion to the center of our lives and communities. By literally saying, “Yes, in my backyard”, we will begin to see the person afflicted by the issue. We believe this will nurture the empathy needed to catalyze a global movement.


Learning Objectives:

At the end of the session, attendees will be able to actively:

  • Summarize the systems required for an off-grid detached accessory dwelling unit.

  • Identify alternative ways to be involved in ending homelessness.

  • Describe the importance of integration and urban density within a rapidly growing city.

  • Explain the challenges and accomplishments of obtaining Living Building Challenge certification for the BLOCK Project.



Jenn LaFreniere

Principal at BLOCK Architects / Co-founder of the BLOCK Project

After graduating from Washington State University in 2011, Jenn spent a little over five years working at Graham Baba Architects on an array of projects from small remodels to large commercial buildings. Discussions about starting a firm with her father, BLOCK Architects, sparked conversations about the ties between architecture and social justice, ultimately leading to the formation of the BLOCK Project, the first endeavor for their architectural firm.





Rex Hohlbein

Founder + Creative Director at Facing Homelessness

Principal at BLOCK Architects / Co-founder of the BLOCK Project

A Seattle native, Rex ran a successful residential architectural firm for 30 years. Seven years ago, after friending several homeless men along the Fremont canal, Rex started a Facebook page to raise awareness for those living unsheltered through the sharing of photos and personal stories. Today, that Facebook page has over 45,000 followers and has become a thriving and inspirational non-profit, Facing Homelessness. This year begins a new chapter, as Rex combines both architecture and community outreach in starting a social justice architecture firm, BLOCK Architects, with his daughter Jenn LaFreniere.

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