LeeAnn Suen, MArch I 2017
Summer 2015
Organization: Harvard Square Youth Housing Initiative, Cambridge, MA
Sponsor: Greater Boston Community Service Fellowship

“A quick rendering of a bunk bed concept for the Y2Y shelter.

My second week with Y2Y has been a whirlwind introduction to many of the stakeholders involved in the Y2Y project.  On Tuesday, I attended a meeting with the Building Committee, which includes representatives from the shelter’s architect, Studio G; its general contractor, Skanska USA; its host space, First Parish in Cambridge; its day-time drop-in service partner, Youth on Fire, a group of the AIDS Action Committee; as well as several members of the Advisory Board. The group has been the primary advisory and decision-making body for the space renovation, and the meeting was focused on the troubleshooting the estimates that have come back from the subcontractors. The process has not been a traditional design-bid-build, instead, Y2Y, Studio G, Skanska, and the contractors have engaged in an extremely collaborative process that would allow Y2Y to benefit from the generosity and flexibility of both the designers and the builders to find solutions that are affordable for the shelter budget. A big component of this is allowing for flexibility in specifications depending on the material and equipment that can be donated or discounted.

The next night, I attended a meeting of the Young Adult Advisory Council, a group of young adults who have previously or are currently experiencing homelessness. These young people provide insight on their experience of the shelter system in order to inform the design of the shelter’s policies, programming, and spaces. I presented renderings of a built-in bunkbed design and talked through a major space flip in the plan of the shelter.

Finally, on Thursday, I staffed a fundraiser in the South End, organized by two major supporters and advocates, part of the Y2Y Advisory Board. They invited their friends and colleagues to the Mills Gallery in the South End, to hear the stories of several members of our YAAC, to learn about Y2Y, and to lend their financial support to our cause.

The Co-Directors, Sam and Sarah, are, above all else, community organizers, and these three days were just a small snapshot of the many partners in their network that they keep engaged to make this shelter a reality.”