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This Startup Builds 3D Printed Homes for Chronically Homeless Individuals to Help Them Out of Unhealthy Situations



Icon 3D

There are approximately 553,000 homeless people in the United States, according to the US Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Annual Assessment Report in 2018. The Austin-based startup, Icon, is combatting this epidemic using 3D printer technology with a unique approach. Often times, people who fall into homelessness don’t have much of a support system. In fact, certain cities do the bare minimum to help which can keep individuals in a loop exposing them to violence and unhealthy habits.

Icon believes 3D printing can provide a safe space for the homeless while also significantly driving down the cost of housing. So far, they have built six small homes in a 51-acre area called Community First! Village. It caters to providing affordable and permanents housing for the disabled and chronically homeless in 2005.


According to Fast Company, “When we were first trying to imagine how we could use technology to tackle the global housing crisis, we couldn’t find anything else that had all of these promising advantages,” says Jason Ballard, Icon’s co-founder, and CEO.

Icon’s efforts are truly inspiring as a warm place to call home is a basic human need. Without a home, feelings of not being enough can come up. Especially when society can ignore a person on the street in major cities or densely populated areas. These 3D printed homes are leading the game in meeting basic needs, providing a sense of family and structure to assist individuals out of these situations.

The low-cost approach and sustainable materials generally makes the building approach less expensive. Communy First! Village goes beyond being a haven for basic shelter needs. They also encourage social wellness by providing a community market, a garden, outdoor kitchens, a dog park and other places for people to meet and talk. “There’s all activities to bring you out of the house and to interact with each other and support each other,” says Shea according to Fast Company. “And I think we all know that’s the way to live.”

Community First!

“There’s all activities to bring you out of the house and to interact with each other and support each other,” says Shea, who moved into the community after struggles with addiction and arthritis forced him to stop working and had pushed him into homelessness. “And I think we all know that that’s the way to live.”

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