Tell us why housing is an important philanthropic focus for KITE.
At KITE, our approach is focused on human-centered design that recognizes that our buildings - and housing in particular - has a huge impact on our well-being. There is a wealth of research that links quality housing to mental health, physical health, and supports our overall ability to form meaningful relationships, maintain a job, and generally live to our potential. Everyone deserves safe, stable housing - without it no human can thrive.
What impact do you hope your support will have in the community?
We want to highlight how successful Crossroads 'Housing First' approach is at reducing homelessness in our state and helping people stabilize and ultimately thrive. Our work together provides housing to help the most vulnerable people in our community. This stability leads to better outcomes - from improvement of children's performance in school, to management of health issues, to reduction of poverty.
When people realize the huge impact that well-planned housing has on people’s lives, and how important it is that Crossroads continues to develop affordable housing, I think they are eager to extend their own generous financial support.
How long has KITE been partnering with Crossroads?
KITE Architects started working with Crossroads back in 2001 on their renovations of the former YMCA, and I personally have been involved in designing many more projects with them in the last 20+ years, including the Women’s Shelter, the Kingstown Crossings Apartments, and the recently completed Family Housing in Providence.
I distinctly remember my first week at KITE in 2003 sitting right next to another architect who was on the phone with Michelle Wilcox - now Crossroads’ President - about 6 times a day about everything from the location of washing machine controls in the laundry rooms to what to do about the leaky basement at 160 Broad Street that used to be the YMCA pool. Overhearing these incredibly detailed and frequent conversations all made sense when I started working with Michelle and others at Crossroads and understood how detail-oriented they were, and committed to making the best possible facility to do their important work. We’ve had thousands more conversations like that along the way!
What do you wish people knew about homelessness?
The vast majority of people who experience homeless do so temporarily - it’s not typically a chronic repeating circumstance - but they need the kinds of services and help that Crossroads provides to re-establish themselves into housing.
The other thing seems so obvious - that only real solution to homelessness is creating housing. There are a lot of obstacles that make developing affordable and supportive housing harder than it needs to be to be - from restrictive zoning to financial resources. It requires all of us to work together, and not just architects and developers, but lawyers, elected officials, volunteers on civic boards, bankers, and of course our strong network of social service providers.
We are eager to help meet Crossroads' goal of eliminating chronic homelessness in Rhode Island by building more supportive housing. The great news is that it is actually possible on the track we are on together.
Tell us why partnering with Crossroads is valuable to KITE.
Crossroads is an incredibly effective organization. Their ability to understand and harness the power of design to do their work makes our work very satisfying and inspires our team at KITE. The technical knowledge, creativity, and perseverance needed to make great architecture means we have demanding and difficult job, so knowing it is all for a great cause is a very powerful motivator.