Mary Meisenzahl:

Small Austin, Texas-based startup Icon is betting that 3D printing is the key to solving the US’ homelessness crisis and lack of affordable housing.

Last year, nonprofit Community First put $18 million into a tiny home village in Austin to help the chronically homeless get off the street. The village had space for 180 residents, who live in 200-square-foot homes, pay about $300 in rent, and have job opportunities on site. Now, Icon is bringing its 3D printing technology into the village to hopefully speed up the process, while also making it cheaper. The first residents are set to move in this spring.

Now might be an opportune time for these homes to be built. Experts suggest that COVID-19, the coronavirus disease, could pose a significant threat to homeless populations, who have higher risks of contracting infectious diseases than the general population.