Put together by Meadors, a local architecture, design, and preservation firm, the project is intended to remind the public of the many organizations who work daily to assist the city’s homeless population. A total of 430 silhouette figures have been crafted to represent approximately every man, woman, and child in Charleston without a place to live.
“Each cutout represents a homeless person. They are see-through because often that is how the homeless are seen — or not seen,” says Michael Nixon, who handles design services at Meadors. “They’re basically looked right through. There are all different types of figures representing a huge scope of people who become homeless.”
According to Nixon, Meadors became interested in raising awareness about Charleston’s homeless population after being awarded an architectural contract to design two low-cost housing units for the city. Around that time, the story of the homeless encampment known as Tent City was all over the news. But Nixon says that once Tent City disappeared, so did the discussion of addressing homelessness.
The installation took 90 days to design and fabricate, and each figure is stamped with a QR code that once scanned directs you to charlestonhomeless.com
. The website provides information on the project and all the local organizations and nonprofits that work to assist homeless individuals.
“We wanted to use this opportunity to bring the issue back into the public eye in the form of a design installation,” says Nixon. “No one really thinks you can solve homelessness. They think it’s always going to be there, but you can certainly help people who fall into homelessness get out of that situation as quickly as possible. That really is the goal. The Lowcountry Homeless Coalition calls it ‘functional zero’ where essentially the homeless population does not increase from month to month because you are able to process them and give them the support they need to deal with the huge array of factors that cause homelessness.”
An art installation highlighting the remaining challenge of homelessness in the Charleston area will be only display at the Gaillard Center throughout the month of July.