Tina Hovsepian Fights Homelessness with Origami | The Pursuit

Tina Hovsepian Fights Homelessness with Origami | The Pursuit

Growing up in L.A., I constantly witnessed
homelessness and it really bothered me. Sometimes architects feel like things they
built need to last forever, but everything is constantly changing, you know, things are
in flux. Every city has an area that you can call Skid Row. In L.A., it’s an area where people are living
in these horrific conditions and it’s really unacceptable to me. I’m very lucky in my life. I personally haven’t experienced homelessness. I just can’t imagine how it is to live without
basic necessities. As an architect, I knew I wanted to find a way to – at the
very least – give people shelter. I was studying architecture at USC and I applied
it to my desire to make an impact on the homeless issue in L.A. It was a very a very ambitious project. That was a really courageous thing, to put
herself out there and take that chance. I didn’t know what it was going to be, but
my first decision that I made about the project was what material to select. Cardboard is a really good material because
it’s readily available. It is lightweight and because there’s air
in the cavities of all the corrugation, it also is a naturally insulating material. So it can surprisingly warm. So I started looking into origami and different
patterns. The actual folding pattern is what gives it
the durability and the stability. In structural engineering, when you add folds
to anything, it’ll add strength to it. So at a folded state, it was going to be very
strong. But the question was what happens when she
unfolded it and stretched it out as far as she could. There were definitely moments where I wanted
to give up. I was like, “This isn’t going to work.” The beauty to something like that is understanding
how to engineer it by its failures. It was really an amazing moment when she pulled
it all together. I find it really warming as an educator to
see that it’s gotten this far and that she keeps pursuing it. Tina is very resilient. She’s really able to change poison into medicine. So I approached Tina saying, “Let’s take it
to business.” We formed a non-profit together and as of
2010, we’ve established an organization. We’ve gone to Skid Row multiple times, taking
shelters with us for research and we really realized that people wanted it, but at the
same time, it was only going to provide a temporary comfort. The research that we picked up from Skid Row
is how we developed our four step program to help people get off the streets. It’s really about helping people with all
of their needs in a holistic way. Not just giving out another handout. We employed, in a pilot program, six homeless
millennials so that we could essentially give them the training they need, and we were able
to successfully place all of our participants into permanent employment. Tina was really sweet. I actually met her through the youth employment
at the LGBT Center. I was staying at their homeless youth shelter. It was an opportunity that just opened up
when I kind of needed it and it really kind of helped me get back on my feet. And thanks to that, I was able to get the
job where I’m working at right now. I am no longer homeless and I just try to
give back as much as I can. Word spread online, you know. People started blogging about us. We’ve received multiple awards. I’ve received the Mother of Invention Award
from Toyota and one thing led to another and we were getting requests from different countries,
where they wanted to implement our programs or get shelters there. That was really overwhelming at the time. It was kind of difficult to see so much need
for something like this and not be able to meet that need. Last year, after the earthquake, we were contacted
by multiple organizations in Nepal that requested shelters. So that’s been our first big deployment of
Cardborigami. We currently have shelters being built by
the Boy Scouts to do a Eagle Scout project, which is very helpful. Cardborigami is still an all volunteer-run
organization, including myself. I do work fulltime as an architect and then
I take care of day to day operations nights and weekends, but figured out a way to be
very efficient at everything I do. Tina is a really passionate person. Her interest is really quite deep and very
genuine, trying to help make this a better place. Putting your energies and bringing something
to life, Cardborigami is like giving birth for six years and so, yeah, it brings me tremendous joy. It is something that I will always be working
on because it addresses such a big need in the world. Seeing it grow from an idea to actually being
able to help five people get a job or actually being able to protect a few people in Nepal
after the earthquakes, that is what success means to me.

13 thoughts on “Tina Hovsepian Fights Homelessness with Origami | The Pursuit

  1. Thank you for watching. If you would like to read more about Tina you can here:

  2. This does not solve the homeless problem, changing the way you vote, does. Socialist policies that's what make people homeless. Still she did something, good for her and for those who joined.

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