‘Just a miracle’: Homeless man first to move into 3D-printed home, on track to become revolutionary village

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Thanks to the technology of an advanced tech company known as ICON, 70-year-old formerly homeless Tim Shea of Austin now has a home of his own that he rents for just $300 a month in a city where the average rent is reportedly $1,388.

Two years ago, ICON unveiled a revolutionary “Vulcan” 3D printer that could print homes — yes, homes — and not just any homes, but “affordable, resilient, dignified” ones that any reasonable person would find acceptable.

“The 400 square foot homes, 3D-printed with ICON’s Vulcan II printer, feature one bedroom, one bath, a full kitchen, living room and large porch,” according to an ICON blog post.

Real estate agent Alan Graham, the founder of the Mobile Loaves & Fishes nonprofit, used ICON’s technology to build enough homes on the outskirts of Austin for hundreds of needy people. Combined, these homes help make up the Community First! Village.

Formed in 2015, the village is a community designed specifically to help men and women genuinely rise up out of chronic homelessness.

Watch a tour of the village below:

With ICON’s technology, Graham was quickly able to expand the community. While it originally could only house 180 formerly homeless men and women, it’s on track to be able to house hundreds upon hundreds.

“The series of 3D-printed homes by ICON are located in Phase II of the northeast Austin development, bringing the entire property to 51 total acres. When Phase II is completed and at full capacity, Community First! will have an estimated 480 formerly homeless individuals living in the Village — which represents about 40 percent of Austin’s chronically homeless population,” as noted by ICON.

Shea moved into his home last September, thus reportedly becoming the first person in America to live in a printed home:

Speaking with the New York Post this week, he said the experience “changed my life.”

“When I found out I’d be the first person in America to move into a 3D-printed home, I thought it was pretty awesome. The very people I used to run away from, I’m running to. If you’ve been on both sides of the fence, you know some people just need a little encouragement and support,” he said.

“It’s a sense that I’ve settled somewhere, and it’s such a way of embracing me. I feel like I am embraced in this house. There are no tight corners, it’s rounded, it feels like it envelops me. I just love sitting in there and looking at the interior of it. It’s just a very comfortable, very warm, welcoming place, and I am so proud to be living in it,” he added.

He’s also proud of living in the community, which was designed by Graham to genuinely help people stand up on their own versus just giving them a handout.

Besides providing housing, his nonprofit also provides jobs through a community market, culinary program, garden, inn for tourists and more.

(Video: Mobile Loaves & Fishes)3D- AP style


“It’s just a miracle to me to be living there in a house this beautiful. I could never have imagined from where I came from that I would ever have this beautiful place to live in,” Shea reportedly added.

A “beautiful place” built by a 3D printer, to boot.

“The Vulcan is ICON’s 3D printer designed specifically to produce resilient single-story buildings faster, more affordably, and with more design freedom. It has a printing capability to approximately 2,000 square feet. It has an adjustable width (to accommodate different slab sizes) and is transported in our custom trailer with no assembly required,” according to ICON.

“The Vulcan features intuitive tablet-based controls, remote monitoring and support, onboard LED lighting for printing at night or during low-light conditions, and a custom software suite ensuring set-up, operations, and maintenance are as simple and straightforward as possible.”

(Video: ICON)

“The promise of ICON’s 3D-printing technology is really exciting, and what better place to start putting it to use than in one of the country’s most innovative neighborhoods designed to serve men and women who have experienced the trauma of homelessness,” Graham said in a statement published by ICON.

“Vulnerable populations like the homeless are never among the first to access leading-edge anything, but now here in Austin, Texas they’re among the first in line who will be living in some of the most unique homes ever built—and we think that’s a beautiful thing,” he added.

Indeed, and Shea and those like him are beyond grateful.

“You can be out there on the street, and nobody really — they can just step over you. It wasn’t until somebody came along, and he said, you’d be an excellent candidate for what we have a concept that we’re thinking about doing here in Austin,” he said.

To help Graham in his effort to house the homeless, look here.


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