Tuesday, March 10

Mobile Shelters for Homeless

A group in Los Angeles is tackling shelter for the homeless with a rather novel approach.

According the the group:

EDAR (Everyone Deserves A Roof) provides shelter to the homeless in an innovative cost and usage effective way. The EDAR unit is a purpose-specific, special four-wheeled enclosed device, very roughly reminding one of a covered shopping cart.

During the day, the EDAR unit is used to pursue the necessities of life. Personal belongings are secured by the use of locks. The front and back of the cart have storage baskets with removable canvas pouches. The unit is waterproof and provides protection for what it contains. EDAR's wheels are better than a supermarket cart's, being slightly larger and easier to steer in a consistent fashion. There are two brake and locking mechanisms which ensure the unit will not move on its own.

At night, the EDAR unit easily hinges out and down to Night Mode in less than 30 seconds, becoming a sleeping unit. Unfolding the unit allows it to lock in place as the flat metal base extends. The metal and wood base has a mattress and military-grade canvas cover, providing a robust tent-like shelter. The unit is flame-retardant, waterproof, windproof and helps protect from the elements. There are translucent windows that provides light and a view of the surrounding area. By re-folding the unit, the EDAR quickly returns to Day Mode.

While far from ideal in all climates, this is far more humane than no shelter at all. EDAR estimates that the cost of a bed at a shelter costs $100,000. The carts EDAR builds cost $500.

Some facts to consider:

- Each year, more than 3 million people experience homelessness in the United States, including 1.3 million children (approximately 1 in 50).
(Estimate: National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty)

- Of 23 major US cities surveyed, an average of 23% of shelter requests by homeless people are estimated to have gone unmet.

- Of the surveyed cities, 77% of the emergency shelters estimate they will have to turn away homeless people, other than families, because of a lack of resources.
(Estimate: United States Conference of Mayors: Homeless and Hunger Survey December 2006)

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