11:00 am - 3:00 pm (EDT)

This event will be the second installment in a broader series of virtual symposia being organized by the Harvard Graduate School of Design Alumni Council. The first event, Design Impact: Transformations at the Intersection of Equity, Climate Change, and Health, attracted over 800 attendees from more than 50 countries.


Thursday, December 3, 2020
11:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m. ET
Hosted on Zoom Webinar


Design Impact Vol. 2: Straight-Up Talk: Homelessness – Ethics / Policy / Action will be a direct, real-talk dialogue on homelessness in the United States that explores the myriad causes of rising homelessness and innovative solutions to eradicate it. It will consist of 3 distinct panels followed by a summary dialogue. The panels will be prefaced by keynote remarks from Binyamin Appelbaum, lead writer on business and economics for the Editorial Board of The New York Times.


Event Curators

Alice Kimm MArch ’90, Principal, John Friedman Alice Kimm Architects, Director, Open Source Homelessness Initiative (OSHI), based in Los Angeles, CA
John Friedman MArch ’90, Principal, John Friedman Alice Kimm Architects, Chairperson of the Board, Open Source Homelessness Initiative (OSHI), based in Los Angeles, CA


Session 1 – Ethics: Is Housing a (Universal) Human Right? / 11:00 – 12:25 EST

The first panel, “Ethics: Is Housing a (Universal) Human Right?” will probe the cultural, historical, and socio-political causes of homelessness in the United States, as well as the moral and ethical question of who bears ultimate responsibility for providing housing in this country.

Session 1 Moderator: Denise Ghartey JD ’19, Justice Catalyst Fellow and Attorney with the Community Justice Project, based in Miami, FL
Michael Lehrer MArch ’78, Founding Partner, Lehrer Architects
Richard Sennett PhD ’69, Chair, United Nations Habitat Urban Initiatives Group
Leilani Farha, Former UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Housing, Global Director of The Shift
Binyamin Appelbaum, Lead Writer on business and economics for the Editorial Board of The New York Times

Session 2 – Policy: What’s the Problem? / 12:30 – 1:35 EST

The second panel, “Policy: What’s the Problem?” will clarify homelessness politics and policy, focusing on how to advance a new national will committed to providing affordable homes for all individuals.

Session 2 Moderator: Sam Greenberg  AB ’14, co-founder of Y2Y Harvard Square, based in Cambridge, MA
Shaun Donovan AB ’87, MArch ’95, MPA ’95, New York City Mayoral Candidate, Former Director of the Office of Management and Budget, and Former Secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development
Nithya Raman AB ’02, Councilmember-elect, LA City Council District 4
Angela Howard, Senior Vice President, Real Estate and Facilities, Covenant House
Hanan Scrapper, Regional Director of PATH San Diego
Heidi Marston, Executive Director, Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority (LAHSA)

Session 3 – Action: Accelerating Implementation / 1:40 – 2:45 EST

The third panel, “Action: Accelerating Implementation” will explore a range of housing and other innovative solutions designed to help eradicate homelessness in the United States and abroad.

Session 3 Moderator: Kofi Akakpo MArch ’21, Co-Chair of Africa GSD, based in Providence, RI
Rosanne Haggerty, Founder of Common Ground Community and Community Solutions
Claire Elizabeth Williams, Co-Founder & CEO, Foundations for Social Change
Sam Klein AB ’99, Co-Founder of Underlay, a project of Knowledge Futures Group
Kevin Hirai AMDP ’18, Chief Operating Officer of FlyawayHomes

Additional details can be found at