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Pushcart Survival Shelter

Posted on July 10, 2014 at 11:25 AM Comments comments (8)

Pushcart Shelter Design


We have all seen the pics of homeless people with all their worldly possessions in a shopping cart and sleeping in a cardboard box and it got me to thinking that these people need a better cart if that is how they want to live (some do choose that lifestyle).


So I designed this Shelter pushcart that is not much bigger than a shopping cart and rolls on casters like a shopping cart. It has an extendable 6 foot insulated R10 sleeping area. A large covered kitchen unit on top for a butane stove and dish pans. A thinfilm 30 watt solar panel for recharging a phone or using an Ipad. An ice chest cooler and storage baskests for extra gear and the bed top becomes a food prep and table when extended.


This could be made easily from 2x2 lumber sheathed in 1/4" plywood and insulated with R10 foamcore rigid board and would be heated by body temperature.


Many homeless people freeze to death or get sick in the winter and hot summers so this would provide them a safer place to sleep and shelter in harsh weather plus a way to cook a meal.


This could be built by churches and organizations that help the homeless and would also be useful in disaster relief situations when there are lots of victims that need shelter and not enough beds to go around. I estimate the wood and insulation material cost to be around $100.


This is a work-in-progress and if you are an organization that helps the homeless and want the plans I will provide them free if you contact me at

This is how they are currently living

32 Skidoo: Gypsy wagon House On Wheels

Posted on June 25, 2014 at 12:35 PM Comments comments (1)

This is another of my designs that can be built inexpensively and is built for extreme weather and year round living.


32 Skidoo Gypsy Wagon: Worlds Smallest House On Wheels!

This design is still in development but here is a sneak peek.



32 Skidoo Gypsy Wagon is the world's smallest off-grid self contained house on wheels that is insulated for year round living and includes a kitchen with sink and stove, bathroom with shower, toilet and sink, twin bed and single bed and even space for a micro-washing machine all in just a 32 square feet footprint on a 4x8 trailer. Best of all it utilizes SIPS Structural Insulated Panels System construction for a super insulated and super light inexpensive house.



The cost of an average house-on-wheels is around $20,000 and most of that is put into an expensive trailer because it has to hold a lot of weight and the weight comes from using 2x4 construction with standard appliances.



The 32 Skidoo utilizes SIPS Structural Insulated Panel System and is designed with 2 inch lumber walls and minimum lumber greatly reducing the weight of the structure and size and axle weight of the trailer used. It utilizes Owens Corning Foamular AR 150 with an R-10 insulation rating. The house is fully insulated floor to ceiling and tightly sealed so it is built for year round living in even extreme climates and can be heated with a very small propane furnace.



The 32 Skidoo is inspired by the Gypsy Wagon and Sheepherder Wagon style to incorporate under bed storage and all of the features you would need for long term living in an eye-pleasing house that can be moved with just a small vehicle. It could even be built into the back of a larger truck bed or utilize camper jacks to be taken off the trailer if desired.



The purpose of the 32 Skidoo is to provide a permanent living solution that can be built by anyone and is much less expensive than most houses on wheels while providing all the necessary and desired living conveniences in a package that can be towed where you want to live or placed in a small house community, used for camping or for permanent off-grid living.



The plans are still in the development stage and I will release the full ebook step-by-step plans, 3D modifiable Sketchup and it will include solar power options and appliance recommendations.



Subscribe to this website to be informed when the plans are available!

Vetsport Extreme SIPS Microcamper and Homeless Shelter

Posted on June 7, 2014 at 11:15 PM Comments comments (0)

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) estimates that 57,849 veterans are homeless on any given night. There are more than 600,000 homeless people in America.

I have posted my homelessness story here on this blog and I know many homeless Veterans and other people. Many have contacted me for the small house designs that are available on the website but others are looking for mobile shelter ideas and that is how I came to design the Vetsport Extreme SIPS Microcamper.

Many homeless people and especially Veterans do not want to be tied to a house and a state and prefer to travel as the mood hits them or while looking for employment so a small inexpensive camper that can be towed with a smaller car or truck would be better for their lifestyle.

Many of these homeless people live in their cars or trucks or sleep in tents and having experienced living in my truck, tents and poorly insulated campers I know that situation is dangerous and uncomfortable in extreme weather. Many homeless people die from exposure to freezing weather or heat stroke every year.

The Vetsport Extreme SIPS Microcamper is designed specifically to handle weather extremes and it utilizes SIPS Structural Insulated Panels System to produce a 4 inch camper wall and ceiling with R18 insulation value ( more than many houses have.) It can be heated with just body temperature or with a small Buddy style propane heater designed for indoor use. The super insulation, white roof and vents also keeps the microcamper cool in summer if parked under some trees.

The Vetsport is also super strong with steel roof braces and a 4 inch roof and can hold kayaks, mountain bikes, and other camping gear that would crush a teardrop camper. The racks can also be used for carrying sheets of building material and the interior of the camper can be used for hauling supplies to your homesteads or campgrounds.

The Vetsport is a great camper for people that need a small camper for their outback adventures or can be used as a shelter for Veterans and other homeless people for long term living situations. 

Best of all it is inexpensive to build with basic tools by people with basic construction experience and I provide the step-by-step plans to make it easy to construct.

You can see more images and download the plans here:


If you are a homeless veteran contact me and I will supply the plans free of charge!


First Step To Ending Homelessness? Provide Homes

Posted on June 4, 2014 at 4:25 PM Comments comments (0)

First Step To Ending Homelessness? Provide Homes

Empirical evidence shows that just giving people what they need is the simplest, most effective way of fighting poverty.


When it comes to American politics and public discourse there are few dirtier words than the “s”-word: socialism. In the minds of provincial Americans who have never been outside of America’s borders in the modern era, the word conjures disquieting images of soldiers on parade in Red Square, empty shop shelves in Eastern Europe, and benighted states in the developing world where starvation and mass privation create refugees and hordes of glassy-eyed children with distended bellies.


It’s a cliché, of course, since the growth of both American capitalism and the great American middle class were intimately linked to state intervention, control and redistribution, but it is nonetheless true that most Americans are uneasy with the term and its connotations. In particular, the idea that top-down, collectivist solutions to social ills can be beneficial is galling to those claiming to have worked hard — as if others have not — to make something of the opportunities given to them. Success, they claim, requires hard work, and the worst thing one can do is to remove the incentives to work hard, something on which socialist redistribution of wealth is actively premised.


Indeed, it is often better to teach a man to fish rather than to keep providing him with one day after day, but research suggests that the dreaded loss of incentive that comes with providing a handout is neither so bad to the individual, nor, in fact, ultimately so costly to society. To see why, just take a look at what is going on in the area of public policy toward chronic homelessness, where a radical new socialist philosophy is now taking root and effectively ending the scourge of homelessness for the indigent as we know it.


Commonly referred to as “Housing First,” the policy is premised on the notion that to actually solve the problem of chronic homelessness we should first, you know, actually give people a place to live. Solve that problem, say its proponents, and individuals and families can start rebuilding their lives by taking the steps necessary for reintegrating into a community’s economic and social life from a safe, secure location. So relieved of the psychological burden of having to find a play to stay every night and provided with a home base from which to operate, people who fall into homelessness can — with additional support — once again become productive members of society.


What’s more, by providing housing to those who most need it — which tends to be the chronically mentally ill — we keep people off the streets who might otherwise impose other, greater costs on society than the price of a small efficiency apartment somewhere. In theory, Housing First policies cut down on crime, police calls, jailing, emergency room visits and a whole host of other burdens placed on our communities by those who have no place to go and nowhere to stay, but who must be cared for anyway at public expense.


It sounds good, of course, but what is even better is that it actually works. For about a decade now, several states have been experimenting with the philosophy through programmatic changes to their homeless policies that emphasize finding homes for the homeless first, handling other problems second, and empirical research so far has documented amazing results. In the state of Utah, for instance, the institution of a statewide policy to give the homeless homes has seen an unprecedented 74 percent decline in homelessness since the state put a Housing First program into effect statewide in 2005.


What’s more, Utah’s results have come with significant savings attached, as each homeless person provided a home saves the state $5,670 per person. Yes, you read that right: not only is this program working to reduce the number of people sleeping on Utah’s streets, but it is actually reducing overall welfare costs. The state determined that it was cheaper to provide people with a social worker and a place to stay — calculated to cost the state some $11,000 per year — than the alternative which, once the total costs of homelessness on society were estimated, ended up being a much higher $16,670 per year.


If that weren’t remarkable enough, it seems the results in Utah have been replicated elsewhere, too. In North Carolina, for instance, the city of Charlotte built an 85-unit facility called Moore Place in 2013 especially for the indigent homeless. This resulted in a marked reduction in the use of social services by the population using the new housing units. In the space of just one year, the city saw 447 fewer visits to emergency rooms, 372 fewer days spent in hospitals, and a truly remarkable 78 percent reduction in arrests and 84 percent fewer days spent in jail. In total, the benefits associated with the housing program outweighed the costs to the tune of $1.8 million in just one year.


Likewise in Boston, where the institution of a Housing First philosophy in the midst of the Great Recession for the local indigent population has been so successful that placement of the truly needy into long-term housing where they can be looked after by social welfare agencies has led to the slow shuttering of the network of emergency shelters that used to temporarily warehouse them for years on end. As in Utah and the city of Charlotte, Boston and the state of Massachusetts found that the new approach to housing the needy led to significant cost savings of about $2 million a year due to fewer calls on other, more expensive public services.


Then, in an example that perfectly demonstrates the utter folly of what our society has been doing for so long, a prison in Colorado was converted into a Housing First-philosophy homeless shelter for $3.9 million. When the facility ramps up to serving its full population of 200 individuals sometime later this year, total savings to the state from a reduced demand for social services will exceed the state’s appropriation by nearly $1.4 million. Given that there are an estimated 17,000 homeless individuals in the state, if Colorado were to supply housing arrangements for the rest of its homeless population at similar cost per person, the savings to the state would be immense.


Homelessness in paradise!

Posted on May 29, 2014 at 4:55 PM Comments comments (1)

KAILUA, Hawaii—Of all the human problems that have spawned much urban blight in many countries today, nothing is more depressing than homelessness.

It brings up the classic dilemma: If you help the homeless, you’re “enabling” them to become dependent on others for their livelihood. If you enforce the law, you can be seen as apathetic or even abusive toward an unfortunate group of people who cannot help themselves.

Homelessness is especially acute in the inner city, but has spread to suburbia. Kailua, some 30 miles out of Honolulu, is your stereotypical image of a tropical paradise—affluent and middle-class, known for its gentle winds, gleaming white-sand beaches, and majestic mountain ranges shaped like accordions.

As I write this, police authorities are still looking for the killers of Scott MacMillan, who was found dead in this quiet town where he had made a “home” in the streets after losing his job. He was a victim of a brutal stabbing.

In fact, Honolulu has recently witnessed the deaths of four other homeless men. Some of these men could not be identified because they had neither IDs nor other papers with them. One who was found unresponsive in a bus stop is described only as “Caucasian, 5 feet 10 inches tall and 125 pounds, with white hair and blue eyes.”

Another victim is described as “Asian, 5 feet 7 inches tall and 114 pounds, with brown eyes and balding gray hair.” There is a multiplicity of Asian ethnicity in Hawaii, so that description can fit anybody from Asia and the Pacific.

There are many variations of the growing homeless demographic in Hawaii. Some are from the working poor who cannot afford to rent a place. So they sleep just anywhere they can find an empty space, usually in public parks, even on sidewalks, or on the beach.

Others, like MacMillan, have lost their jobs and have nowhere to go.

Fortunately, as I walk around and occasionally talk to some of them, I have not met a single Filipino, male or female, who is homeless. This can be attributed to our basic cultural value of taking care of our “problematic” family members. We don’t throw them out in the streets. In places like Kalihi, a predominantly Filipino neighborhood, there are houses built to accommodate as many as 20 people to a household, mostly related to one another.


An increasing number of the homeless come from the US mainland; they arrive in Hawaii with a one-way airplane ticket. They’d rather die in Paradise than in the frozen streets of Chicago or New York. There was even a ridiculous proposal at the state legislature to raise funds for their tickets back to the mainland. But, of course, they’ll come back again.

Still others are military veterans suffering all kinds of postwar or posttraumatic disorders and are not eligible for medical assistance or treatment. The wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and other areas where there are US troops have swelled the ranks of the homeless everywhere.

Finally, there are the “chronically homeless,” who suffer from various physical, emotional and mental disorders, including substance abuse. There is now a shortage of programs to assist the physically and mentally disabled, even those with homes, so imagine the plight of those who are ailing and also homeless and with no insurance.

There are many variations of homeless people but there is a tendency to view them all as a “single class.” State, city and county authorities have grappled with various solutions, as well as with stricter law enforcement, but the problem persists. Even if there were available shelters, many refuse to be “institutionalized.”

When driven away from one location, the homeless just move to another place with their makeshift tents and devices for survival in the streets or beaches. Many public parks have been appropriated by the homeless, including children who should be in school. The general public avoids these places and actually resent the homeless for the inconveniences they cause, or the government, which doesn’t do enough for them.

In a recent poll on whether the problem of homelessness has gotten better or worse or remained the same in the past year, 55 percent said “worse,” 38 percent said “the same,” and only 4 percent said “better.” The problem shows no signs of abating.

Even Waikiki and Chinatown, attractions for Hawaii’s premier tourism industry, are getting alarmed over losing business because of the problem. Especially troubling is the increasing number of young people who have joined this new urban demographic.

Meanwhile, in an effort to boost tourism even more, or attract business to the state, Hawaii has embarked on a vigorous high-rise building program in the Kaka’ako district, which now looks like a high wall of concrete blocking the ocean from public view. The new skyline obscuring the magnificent sunset looks hideous and intimidating. This “new development” is intended to cater to the rich. It’s just a matter of time before the bubble bursts, as has happened in the past.

This is the irony in Paradise: As the problem of homelessness escalates to alarming proportions, there is a troubling accompanying pattern of overdevelopment—luxurious high-rise condominiums for the rich and yet unborn generations.

Belinda A. Aquino is professor emeritus at the University of Hawaii at Manoa, where she taught political science and Asian studies and served as founding director of the Center for Philippine Studies.

Houston homeless population cut by nearly 40 percent since 2011

Posted on May 29, 2014 at 4:35 PM Comments comments (0)

Houston's homeless population declined by 37 percent, or 3,187 fewer homeless people, since 2011, according to the Point-In-Time Homeless Count conducted on Jan. 30, 2014 by the Coalition for the Homeless of Houston and Harris County.

Marilyn L. Brown, President & CEO of the Coalition for the Homeless of Houston and Harris County, announced the results of the Count earlier today along with Tory Gunsolley, President & CEO of the Houston Housing Authority and Chair of the Steering Committee for the Houston Continuum of Care. Brown credited the 2012 formalization of the Houston/Harris/Fort Bend County Continuum of Care (CoC) for the outstanding results to date.

"Access to permanent housing gives people the chance to leave homelessness behind. Our Continuum of Care partners’ collaboration to create integrated, community-wide strategies to prevent and end homelessness is the key to our success. But, we still have much heavy lifting in front of us," said Brown.

This year, on a given night, there were 5,351 total sheltered and unsheltered homeless people in the Houston area compared with 8,538 on a given night identified in the 2011 Count and 6,359 identified in 2013. Of those surveyed in the Count, 2,291 homeless people (43 percent) lived on the streets or in other uninhabitable places compared with 4,418 (52 percent) in 2011.

"Houston is on its way to becoming a national model to end homelessness," Brown said. “Because there are multiple causes of homelessness, there need to be multiple solutions to end homelessness. The key to success for chronically homeless citizens, who are our most vulnerable population, is providing permanent housing linked with critical services. Permanent Supportive Housing saves lives. I am amazed at the progress made through the collaboration of the many service providers and partners. And, we’re just getting started!”


Homelessness declines as new thinking fuels 'giant untold success'

Posted on May 29, 2014 at 3:45 PM Comments comments (0)

A radical change in how states address homelessness has fueled a 17 percent decline in homelessness since 2005 – a trend that has withstood financial panic, a foreclosure crisis, and the Great Recession.


The new data come from the National Alliance to End Homelessness, which sees the recent success as the "giant untold story of the homelessness world," according to Stephen Berg, vice president of policy and programs.


The shift comes as the prevailing wisdom that homeless individuals need to get a handle on other social problems in their lives before they can receive housing gives way to new thinking. In recent years, many states have started to flip that idea and have adopted what’s known as a “housing first” approach.


“Instead of trying to fix all the problems that homeless people have while they are homeless, [housing first] gets them into housing right away, then they end up taking care of a lot of other problems from a stable home,” Mr. Berg says.


It points to an openness to new ways to address persistent problems.


“It’s always hard when you see a big national change to give credit to one thing for it,” Berg says. “But I think communities are changing the way they are arraying their homeless resources and that’s got to be part of what’s bringing this trend about.”


Utah’s Department of Housing and Community Development has used the housing-first approach to slash chronic homelessness by 73 percent since 2005, says HCD director Gordon Walker.


“We used to say to people, ‘Change your life and then we’ll give you housing,’ ” Mr. Walker says. “We changed that to, ‘We’ll give you housing, and if you want to change your life, that’s up to you.’ ”


Walker insists that housing first makes perfect fiscal sense.


“By doing this, we actually save money.” Walker says. “If we house an individual, it costs about $12,000 a year; if we leave them on the street it costs society about $20,000 a year in emergency room services, incarcerations, polices interventions, and cleanup.”


The US Interagency Council on Homelessness has been advocating for housing first since the 2010 launch of Opening Doors, a federal strategic plan to prevent and end homelessness, says council Executive Director Laura Zeilinger.


This has been a major focus of the federal Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing program, Ms. Zeilinger says.


That effort has paid off, with a 24 percent reduction in homelessness among veterans and a 34 percent decrease in unsheltered homelessness among veterans from 2010 to 2013, she says.


“We’re showing that when we invest and we use those resources strategically, this is a problem we can solve,” Zeilinger says.


However, the housing-first approach only works if there is enough affordable housing to go around.


In Boston, housing is so tight that it is not uncommon for people to wait four to 10 years for affordable housing, says Kelly Turley, director of legislative advocacy for the Massachusetts Coalition for the Homeless.


Massachusetts is one of 20 states that reported an increase in homelessness from 2012 to 2013.


Quixote Village Project

Posted on May 29, 2014 at 2:30 PM Comments comments (0)

Quixote Village grew from the vision of a self-governing tent camp of homeless adults in Olympia, Washington. The Village consists of 30 tiny cottages, a large vegetable garden and a community building that contains showers, laundry facilities, a communal kitchen and living and dining space. Village residents moved from Camp Quixote to the Village on Christmas Eve, 2013.


The Village is supported by Panza, a non-profit organization that grew out of the many faith communities that hosted and sustained Camp Quixote during its 6+ years of existence.


We welcome your interest and support, and we hope you will explore our history, photos, news, blog and links. And of course we hope you will consider volunteering or donating to help sustain this sensible, affordable and innovative approach to helping people who have been homeless build better lives.

Would you believe it�??s way cheaper to house the homeless than to leave them on the streets?

Posted on May 29, 2014 at 2:05 PM Comments comments (0)

Last week, the Central Florida Commission on Homelessness released a study that found that it is three times as expensive to leave homeless people on the street as it is to house them and provide job training and health care. Currently, the taxpayers of Florida pay $31,065 a year per chronically homeless person, as compared to the $10,050 it would take to just take care of them.


Via Orlando Sentinel:


Last fall, the commission spent $15,000 donated by the Orlando Solar Bears to hire the Tulsa, Okla.-based company Creative Housing Solutions, which conducted the analysis. Researchers worked with local homeless outreach programs to identify 107 long-term-homeless residents living in Orange, Osceola or Seminole County. Using actual jail and hospital records, they tracked public expenses through the years to come up with the yearly average of $31,065 per person.


That figure was multiplied by 1,577 — the number of chronically homeless people throughout the three counties. In both cases, the figures were considered conservative.


“We didn’t even include the money spent by nonprofit agencies to feed, clothe and sometimes shelter these individuals,” said lead researcher Gregory Shinn, associate director of the Mental Health Association Oklahoma in Tulsa. “This is only money that we could document for the individuals we studied — and it’s money that is simply being wasted. The law-enforcement costs alone are ridiculous. They’re out of control.”


The reason for the high price tag on homelessness is manifold. It has to do with visits to the emergency room (which are very, very expensive), with incarceration rates (many times homeless people will commit petty crimes simply to have a bed to sleep in), as well as other issues affecting the homeless.


As Andrae Bailey the CEO of Creative Housing Solutions, the Oklahoma-based consulting firm that conducted the study, pointed out to the Orlando Sentinel, a large portion of Florida’s homeless population suffers from some kind of physical or mental disability. PTSD in particular is very common. These conditions, plus, you know, being a homeless person, do not lend themselves just to pulling oneself up by bootstraps and finding a job. They need help.


While it’s easy for some to shrug off the morality of taking care of the homeless, one would hope that the fact that it’s actually more fiscally responsible to do so might change some minds. The study indicates that by housing the homeless, the state of Florida could save over $350 million in the next decade. I mean, this feels very much like a “two birds, one stone” situation to me. Everyone gets something! Liberals get the whole giving homeless people housing, health care and job training thing, and Conservatives get to save money. It’s like an Oprah Christmas Special! I think. I mean, I’m sure there are those out there who would prefer spending tons of money to housing the homeless purely out of spite, but I can’t imagine they’re a huge subset of the population.


To be fair, I cannot possibly understand how or why we just let people be homeless in the first place. It’s truly bizarre when you think about it, given how little it would cost to fix. Not to mention the kids. 33% of the homeless population in Chicago are children. We are actually just letting children be homeless. That’s awful! That’s just not a thing that should be happening in a civilized society. But hey, even if you have a different opinion than I do on this, I would think the cost-effectiveness of not letting people be homeless might appeal to you, at least.



The Push to End Chronic Homelessness Is Working

Posted on May 29, 2014 at 12:55 PM Comments comments (0)

The Push to End Chronic Homelessness Is Working

By DAVID BORNSTEIN MAY 28, 2014 11:40 AM


Sometime in June, the 100,000 Homes Campaign — an initiative launched four years ago to help communities around the country place 100,000 chronically homeless people into permanent supportive housing — expects to announce that it has reached its goal. It’s a significant milestone: It means that many American cities are currently on track to end chronic and veteran homelessness by the end of the decade or earlier.


The campaign, which is coordinated by Community Solutions and works in partnership with the Department of Housing and Urban Development, the Department of Veterans Affairs and the United States Interagency Council on Homelessness, has helped to shift the way homeless organizations and agencies around the country set goals, measure progress, prioritize individuals and coordinate their efforts to house people living on the streets.


Consider Jacksonville, Fla. In 2011, when the city began engaging with the 100,000 Homes Campaign, 3,025 of its residents were homeless and 1,104 were chronically homeless. Earlier this year, the city reported that the number of homeless residents had dropped to 2,049, with 399 of them chronically homeless, according to Shannon Nazworth, the executive director of Ability Housing of Northeast Florida. That’s a drop of one-third and two-thirds, respectively.


Something similar occurred in Nashville. In June 2013, galvanized by the 100,000 Homes Campaign, the city launched How’s Nashville, a concerted effort to end chronic homelessness by the end of the decade. The city started tracking its monthly placements. Previously, it had been averaging 19 per month; today, it’s housing an average of 47 per month, reports Will Connelly, who directs the city’s Metropolitan Homelessness Commission. Since last June, Connelly said, the city has placed more than 500 chronically homeless people in permanent supportive housing.


Many other cities have ramped up their placements over the past year or two. The campaign tracks more than 50 cities that have been housing at least 2.5 percent of their chronically homeless population for three consecutive months, a pace that correlates with ending chronic homelessness in four or five years. (Nationally, from 2010 to 2013, chronic homelessness declined by 16 percent, and homelessness among veterans declined by 24 percent.)


How did these changes happen?




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