An Open Letter to Evan Loomis

Written on February 7, 2019

I hand-wrote and mailed the following to Evan Loomis, a co-founder at the housing nonprofit ICON after seeing his open letter to Elon Musk. Similarly, I have no idea if he received it. I took the prompt at the end of his forward seriously, because I think his work is important even if it’s not as flashy as rocket science. I hope it makes you think and/or feel something.

Dear Evan,

I stumbled across your open letter to Elon the other day, and I just wanted to say that I feel similarly about what you and your team are doing in terms of affordable housing.

When I was in high school, I ran away. Twice actually. I walked about three and a half miles in the heat from my mom and abusive stepdad’s house to my dad and stepmom’s house. I ended up moving in with my dad full time, and then eventually went off to college to study computer science, which I’m halfway through my senior year in.

Currently, my dad handles all of my living and college expenses. I get $1000 a month to pay for rent, utilities, and food, and maybe the occasional pair of flats or thrift store trip. I have a minimum wage student job that I work around school for a couple hours a week that brings in $200 a month. After college, if I wanted, I could probably go off and get some high paying programming job somewhere fairly easily.

I’m obscenely lucky.

But I worry about the people around me.

I worry about the student debt that my classmates are accruing and how it will affect their lives.

I worry about their potential being wasted on low-paying jobs that aren’t related to their fields of study.

I worry that they’ll burn out, spending 60 hours a week at two separate part-time jobs just to pay rent.

Occasionally I wonder how things would be were I not so lucky. If I’d only had a mom and abusive stepdad, with no second stable household to run to when one collapsed. If I didn’t have my college paid for by predecessors who had the forethought to plan for it.

In my mind, 3D printed housing represents true stability. It implies that no matter what happens, you can have a space that is fully yours, at an affordable price point that no one can take away. Traditional housing either nickel and dimes you month-to-month or chains you to it with a forty year mortgage. Neither of these seems like a good way to live.

You might not have the recognition Elon has in this world, but I want you to know that it is just as, if not even more important, than what he’s doing.

Keep it up,

-Alina Christenbury

P.S., If you happen to visit Delaware, please let me buy you a coffee