Watch formerly homeless people make jackets that double as sleeping bags

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The Empowerment Plan is a Detroit-based organization that creates manufacturing jobs making EMPWR coats that double as sleeping bags:

Via designboom:

the empowerment plan is a detroit-based, nonprofit organization focused on permanently elevating families from the generational cycle of homelessness. it hires single parents from local shelters and provide them with training and full-time employment as seamstresses so that they can earn a stable income, find secure housing, and regain their independence. the individuals it hires manufacture a coat designed to meet the needs of those in the homeless community. the durable ‘EMPWR coat’ can transform into a sleeping bag at night or an over-the-shoulder bag when not in use. since 2012, it has provided employment to 34 homeless individuals—all of whom have now secured permanent housing for themselves and their families—and distributed over 15,000 coats to those in need across the US and canada.

REDFworkshop.org (Vimeo / The Empowerment Plan via designboom) Read the rest

Letter to my black daughter under a Trump presidency

Image: Carla Sinclair

Hi Kid,

On Election Night, you went to bed crying, and this time, I couldn't fix it. Like half the country, you thought you would be going to bed with your candidate as the president-elect. I wiped away a big, globby tear from the end of your nose, proud of you for caring so deeply about your country. I said it was going to be OK. I explained that, "politics goes back and forth, and this year it just wasn't our turn. Remember when I was for Obama and you were for Hillary, and she lost the primary, but you ended up liking Obama?" Your thirteen year-old defiance broke through your tears, as you declared, "No, this is different!"

You then spouted off a litany of things I didn't know you thought much about:

"It's different because Donald Trump doesn't have the basic morals of everything our country stands for. He doesn't even have the morals of a normal Republican. It's not that the other side won. It's that the person who won is literally against half of the people in the country. He doesn't like Muslims, Mexicans, anyone who is LGBT, he definitely doesn't like women, or people of color. He doesn't like ME. It seems like he only likes people like himself -- white males. How can he be our president?"

He's our president because people voted for him and he won the election. I will be raising you under a Donald Trump presidency until you go to college in four years. Read the rest

Parking-ticket bot will now help homeless people get benefits

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Stanford computer science student Joshua Browder, whose DoNotPay bot helps you fight parking tickets in London and New York (it's estimated to have overturned $4M in tickets to date) has a new bot in the offing: a chatbot that helps newly homeless people in the UK create and optimise their applications for benefits. Read the rest

Cash grants to people with unexpected bills successfully prevents homelessness

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In The impact of homelessness prevention programs on homelessness (Scihub mirror), a group of academic and government economists show that giving an average of $1,000 to people in danger of losing their homes due to unexpected bills (for example, emergency medical bills) is a successful strategy for preventing homelessness, which costs society a lot more than $1,000 -- more importantly, these kinds of cash grants do not create a culture of "dependency" that leads to recklessness, nor does it have a merely temporary effect. Read the rest

Residents of Silicon Valley homeless camp clear 48,000 Lbs of garbage from creek, ask for housing

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Silicon Valley's legendary housing crisis -- now several decades old -- has led to the establishment of semi-permanent homeless camps on public lands, including a notable camp on the banks of Coyote Creek, on Santa Clara County Water District land. Read the rest

Artist installs rooms beneath Milan's sewer entrances

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Biancoshock, an artist in Milan, created these "Borderlife" installations that appear to be underground rooms beneath the city's sewer-entrances, as a way of calling attention to homelessness, especially in Bucharest, where 600 people are living in the sewer tunnels. Read the rest

LA's new rule: homeless people are only allowed to own one trashcan's worth of things

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A new law passed by the LA city council prohibits homeless people from owning more belongings than can fit in a 60-gallon trashcan with the lid on, and allows police to summarily confiscate any tents that are still standing on public property during daylight hours. Read the rest

America's permanent, ubiquitous tent-cities

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Homelessness in America dwindled away after WWII, when the GI Bill and generous social programs seemed to finally get on top of a problem that had been with the country since its inception; but starting with Reagan's mass de-institutionalizations and cuts to social services, homelessness has only grown, a phenomenon America answered by criminalizing being alive, and pretending not to notice homeless people in encampments at the edge of more and more US cities. Read the rest

We are all just two or three crises away from the street

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I live in an apartment which is part of a motel. Some residents live permanently in the regular guest rooms. There are about five of us "regulars." We all get along -- a screenwriter, a family, two bachelor brothers, the nice single lady, and me with my daughter. They recently raised everyone's rent by the highest percentage possible.

So today I was walking by Manhattan Bagel, and there's the nice single lady -- she dresses well and always shopped at Trader Joe's. But she's on the street now. Homeless. She couldn't afford the price jump and can't find anywhere safe that is as cheap. She cried at seeing me, embarrassed. I gave her $20 and said she could come over and use my shower any time until she gets things figured out.

I've had some troubles on my mind this week. Severe, complex troubles in all areas of my life. But I am so grateful that at least I have a place to live today. The money scene is challenging now with losing the band job so suddenly [Maureen was the bassist in Babes in Toyland -- Mark]. It is an adjustment, but I'll get through.

I've been homeless in New York. I know how quickly it can happen, and seeing my neighbor reminded me that we are all just two or three crises away from the street. This is how it happens. One last bad break, and the neat and organized woman in #125 now lives in the alley behind the bagel shop. Read the rest

Dirty Kids: movie on “street” youth who find unlikely home at hippie Rainbow Gatherings

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Over time hippie-inspired Rainbow Gatherings in the forest have become magnets for a new counterculture: homeless teens and young adults. Alice Stein's new film Dirty Kids explores the culture clash and commonality of the two free-spirited groups. Read the rest

A homeless man plays Styx's “Come Sail Away” and crushes it

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Donald Gould became a viral celebrity after this video of him performing a classic rock anthem exploded on Facebook. He is homeless. Read the rest

Seattle's tent cities

Seattle has America's fourth-largest homeless population and virtually everything homeless people do is illegal in Washington State, which has added 288 new offenses related to homelessness to its statute-books since 2000 -- amazingly, this did not convince those homeless people to stop being homeless. Read the rest

Portraits of homeless people using libraries

Libraries, "the last bastion of democracy," are a haven for America's 500,000 homeless people, where literature, Internet access, and nonfiction can come together to provide respite from the relentless brutality of life on the streets. Read the rest

Shower-bus for homeless people rolls in San Francisco

Lava Mae is a startup that renovates donated, surplus San Francisco city buses, fitting them out with accessible showers that can be brought to homeless people around town. Read the rest

Charity collection-boxes shaped like life-sized homeless people

The Dutch homelessness charity Badt dressed mannequins as homeless people, sawed coin-slots in their foreheads, and seeded them around Amsterdam with signs soliciting donations. It's a clever campaign, but it says something a little unpleasant, in that we are apparently more willing to give money to a doll with a slot in its forehead than an actual homeless person. Read the rest

Albuquerque police chief OKs shooting of homeless man who ran from flash grenade

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Travel tip for Albuquerque visitors: When a gang of police officers unleash their attack dog on you and startle you with a flash-bang grenade, stand very still. If you try to back away, Police Chief Gordon Eden has given the officers permission to shoot you on the spot.

The Albuquerque Police Department has been under federal review by the U.S. Department of Justice since 2012 when the agency’s record of shooting 25 suspect – 17 fatal – garnered national attention. The department has added 11 more shootings to that list since the end of 2012. Albuquerque officers have shot more persons than the NYPD, a department serving a city 16-times larger, since 2010.

Albuquerque cops assault and kill camping homeless man Read the rest

Formerly homeless maker reengineering the homeless shelter

Over at Institute for the Future's Future Now blog, my colleague Rebecca Chesney writes:

Marc Roth moved to San Francisco to make a better life for his family, but he soon became ill and unable to work. After six months living in a homeless shelter, he used assistance money to take classes at TechShop, a makerspace that provides tools and training for members. Marc learned new skills that led to starting his own laser cutting business, and, more importantly, he found support in an active and engaged community. Now Marc wants to help others who have fallen on hard times and don’t have the skills needed to enter today’s technology-driven economy. He founded The Learning Shelter, a 90-day program that provides housing, training, and mentorship for obtaining a job. A true extreme learner, Marc is teaching others what he learned: that the “permission to fail and encouragement to break through the walls you run into [are] absolutely necessary.”

The Indiegogo campaign is over but Marc's work has just begun: The Learning Shelter (Thanks, Gever Tulley!) Read the rest

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