INTRODUCING The SHELTERPOD-SHELTERVET
We are proud to introduce a new concept for helping cities and towns cope with the increasing nationwide homeless problem. Many homeless people would rather be outdoors than in a potentially dangerous permanent shelter. We invite charities and government officials to explore our unique mobile emergency housing concepts. Homeless people may also earn income by participation. Use "SHELTERPOD" in the subject line on the Contact Us page.
An excerpt from "Make Money With Your Bike" (about the ShelterPod-ShelterVet concept).
By Richard Pawlowski
About 10 years ago, and when I lived in San Pedro, California, I saw a homeless woman pushing a stolen shopping cart uphill, going west along Western Ave. She was headed towards White Point on the coast. She was about my age - 62 at that time. She had everything she owned in that cart and she was sweating profusely. It was a sunny, beautiful day for me, but not for her. This woman was in a world of big hurt and her day was nothing like mine.
I stopped jogging and asked her if she knew where she was going. I knew there were no shelters or places for help in that direction. If she was going to go around Palos Verdes Drive West, she would have to go by the exclusive Trump National Golf Course and the police would surely stop her. Not much hope for her going that way. All very expensive homes that way too.
From behind the caked dust on her face and the apparently stinging sweat in her eyes, she simply said “No” - she had no idea where she was. I asked if there was anything I could do and because I was also on foot, she just shook her head in a very sad but thankful-that-I-even-asked way. She didn’t ask for money. She just started pushing again, her head down.
I remember that day clearly because I ran back home, grabbed my wallet and jumped into my car. I went back to help her in any way I could. She was still pushing and I pulled up in back of her to ask if I could take her somewhere safe. She thanked me for my concern but was afraid of being attacked by the other homeless. I gave her the $43 cash I had on hand and also my phone number - just in case it might matter somehow. I never heard from her again, but her helpless expression and the hopeless tone of her voice haunts me even today. In a different but strange way, I felt helpless to help but I had to try.
When I got back to my drafting table and wondered what could I possibly do, which could help many people like her. Perhaps with some kind of mobile, emergency shelter. Something that would be safe at night as well as socially accepted, sponsored and endorsed by city governments - anywhere. What could possibly replace her cart and still be much better than a fixed but potentially dangerous fixed shelter filled with drug addicts? How could she possibly earn income from it too? And, what if what I designed was GIVEN to her rather than trying to sell it to her? What if the units were licensed and managed by the City of LA but donated by non-profit groups?
I came up with something at that time that resembles the Wide Path Camper (shown above) which is currently being manufactured in Denmark. I called my design the ShelterPod and made a model of it thinking these just might work to help the homeless get back on track. I had to put it on the back of her voice burner after I started working on some other projects, but I have never forgotten it because the ShelterPod concept still makes sense to my aging but caring mind.
I’ve recently contacted the manufacture of the Wide Path Camper units to see if we might be able to adapt their design into the ShelterPod concept. However, and at time of publication of this proposal, we haven’t yet connected.
The fact is, something very similar could easily be made in the USA, which would also produce jobs. And, we could call them ShelterPods. I’ve thought a lot about ShelterPods and the potential benefits for our society, especially in San Pedro and LA, even though I no longer live there. My wife and moved from San Pedro - after 70 years - because Southern California in general, became just too crowded, too dangerous and much too expensive for us retirees. If you also consider that there will be 10 billion more humans on this planet soon, I’m pretty sure you’ll agree that ShelterPods are something to seriously consider for the homeless - especially in many California cities. Santa Barbara and San Diego included.
So, to open up a dialog, here’s the basics of the ShelterPod concept and if you can think of more or better reasons for them than those I have outlined here, please let me know. I’d value that input. This ShelterPod concept could belong to all Americans.
ShelterPods & ShelterVets - Mobile Housing for the Homeless
The basic concept and benefits:
* The side panels of a ShelterPod can be used by one or more sponsors (advertisers) and this could be an important and sustainable income for the homeless provided by charities and the philanthropic and private business sectors. ShelterPods in fact, could also create new jobs in making and managing them (printing and tracking) and perhaps spawn a new travel industry as well. The sponsor/s could be the city or town or perhaps a consortium of several non-profit organizations and/or churches working in conjunction with the City of LA.
* Cities in LA, such as San Pedro, in conjunction with the non-profits, could manage and license each unit and literally, give them away free (see RFID tracking below). States could do the same thing.
* The presence of a ShelterPod in a neighborhood is far less threatening than a person pushing a stolen shopping cart, or someone sleeping in a tent on the street or in a doorway or on a bench in a park.
* Cities and towns around the USA could also provide designated, permanent and/or temporary areas where the ShelterPods could be brought in every night and protected. There are plenty of empty lots and areas that can be close to stores and services but be organized and managed by the non-profit organizations. These areas might also have showers and food and medical services.
* ShelterPod units themselves could also have RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) tracking chips and GPS built-in which would allow service tracking and prevent theft. Built-in Wi-Fi capability is another important option.
* ShelterPods could/should be designed to be lockable from the inside for protecting the person while sleeping.
* Local businesses could also “Adopt a ShelterPod” and assist the non-profit and city program. Their sponsorship could be much better and more effective than a FaceBook or Google online ad. Great PR for the sponsors.
* When and IF the ShelterPod concept was accepted locally and then nationwide, a major stigma could be removed for helping and housing the homeless. If people saw a ShelterPod unit in motion, it could be hard to tell if the people riding are homeless or merely traveling. The ShelterPod has another unique purpose within the travel/biking worlds.
Again, if you have any suggestions or additional ideas how ShelterPods might be improved, deployed and/or used, I’d really like to know. It’s very doable in my thinking.
It’s also important to note that there are many others - around the globe - who have pretty much the same idea for RVs and bikes. I’ve googled and researched this extensively and the key difference in my opinion, is the sponsorship / billboards idea and how the sponsor’s message/s are represented. Many of the creative minds who tinker with bikes and RV designs, typically leave out the ongoing “sustainability” of homeless deployment and think primary for their own uses (travel), rather than entertaining the notion of giving them away to those in need of the shelter. Wider thinking may bring even more and better ideas. Note in the above designs, all of them are attached to the back wheel of a simple two wheel bike (I really love the little tear-drop shown above).
Again, cities and non-profit agencies could endorse this basic bike/shelter idea and with active sponsorships, ShelterPods and ShelterVets might solve larger emergency housing problems in their regions.
Please contact me anytime for suggestions and comments. More information and other bike related concepts for community redevelopment are written about in my new book "Make Money With Your Bike" (links to Amazon, Apple, B&N and other retailers are on the Home page).
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