06/26/2013 01:01 pm ET Updated Aug 26, 2013

Handmade Move-in-Kits Welcome Home L.A.'s Homeless

Brought up in Tijuana, Mexico and based in Los Angeles, Tanya Aguiñiga is a furniture designer (and furniture-maker), and the Artist in Residence at this year's Dwell on Design in Los Angeles. The artist encouraged spectators of the yearly trade show to participate in a unique interactive project by creating and assembling "Move-in-Kits" for homeless individuals (including many from Skid Row) who are relocating into permanent housing this month, thanks to the United Way and People Assisting the Homeless (PATH).

According to the United Way, L.A. is the homeless capital of the nation, with more than 51,000 homeless people living on the streets last year. Meanwhile, according to PATH, a nonprofit organization working to assist the homeless, it costs 40 percent less annually to move a homeless person into permanent housing than it costs to support that same individual on the streets. That's why PATH wants to help 3000 people get into their own homes by 2015, but their mission doesn't end there: with the motto "An empty room is not a home," PATH is committed to moving people into homes with lovingly handcrafted household objects inside. Enter the Move-in-Kit, which includes a hand-crafted modular table and stool; a custom-designed tablecloth, a handmade blanket; and a piece of wall art, all bringing a bit of personalized creativity to the beneficiaries' new homes.

"This is an opportunity to not only solve local solutions and bring attention to issues in our own community," Aguiñiga observes, "But also to try and create a template for other cities and homeless aid organization to use in assisting individuals who are placed in permanent housing through craft and design."

While Dwell on Design is over, PATH still needs volunteers to help manage household items as homeless people move off the streets into their own homes. You can also donate online to help provide a housewarming present to a recently-housed family or individual. In the meantime, take a look at some of the scenes from Tanya Aguiñiga's interactive atelier at Dwell on Design below.

Handmade Move-in-Kits

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