In hard times like these come the heartbreaking sights of poverty and joblessness. Fortunately, hard times also inspire innovation, often coming from the most surprising sources. CNN reported on Revenge of the Nerds movie producer Peter Samuelson’s desire to help the homeless by providing them with something they lack: a home.
The makeshift home, called an EDAR (Everyone Deserves A Roof), was first thought of by Samuelson as he took bike rides from Los Angeles to the Santa Monica beach. During those rides, he not only saw the homeless, but he saw how their numbers were growing. So instead of pedaling faster, he stopped to talk to them. He talked to about 62 people and asked them what their needs were and what they wanted most. What they wanted most was shelter.
Samuelson went to work. He joined with Pasadena Art Center College of Design and produced a design contest to create a contraption that would suit the needs of the homeless. After the winning design was chosen, Samuelson used money out of his own pocket and donations to create the first batch of EDARS. The contraption costs $500 to make and is currently being distributed in the Los Angeles area.
For the homeless who have an EDAR, it’s a dream come true. The home is a tent, with a flame-resistant, heavy khaki canvas to keep out the rain. Once its owner is stationary, it can be spread out, extending to its full length of 86 inches and 32 inches wide. Inside this mobile home is a mattress and sleeping bag, luxuries for those who have been sleeping on the street. The home has four wheels, is small enough to fit through a doorway, comes with a braking mechanism to keep it from rolling away and a chain and padlock to prevent stealing.
So far, 60 units have been handed out and 110 units have been ordered. The units will be distributed to the shelters, as well as churches and organizations that help the homeless.
The EDAR and the enthusiasm behind the project is encouraging, especially with the destitution wrought by recession and innumerable home foreclosures. Tent cities that haven’t been seen since the Great Depression have been rising all across the country, especially in places like Los Angeles and Sacramento.
In a photo essay done by MSNBC, they reported that a tent city in Sacramento is in almost the same location along the American River as a tent city that developed during the Depression in 1936. According to MSNBC, the current Sacramento tent city holds more than 1,200 and is growing by 50 people a week.
Peter Samuelson told CNN, “People talk about the homeless as if it’s some homogeneous group of drunken, unemployed, too-lazy-to-get-a-job men. They’re totally wrong. They need to come meet people. What’s the point in having a society if it’s devoid of helping people less fortunate?”
One thing is certain, in these hard times, the EDAR and the people behind it are very much needed.
Ted Rowlands and Wayne Drash, Tents on Wheels Give Homeless People Roof and Pride, CNN.com
EDAR Official Website
Sacramento Tent City, MSNBC