Could this be the solution to homelessness? 83



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Visit any city and you’ll see homeless people sleeping rough in doorways, on benches and in bus shelters. According to statistics from Homelessness Australia, it’s estimated that 105,237 people are currently without a place to call home.

It’s a problem for the people who find themselves homeless, who need somewhere safe to stay and it’s a problem for society as we try to find ways to help. Walk past cardboard and makeshift tent cities, it’s hard to remember they may be someone’s home and they can look intimidating, leading us to dehumanise rough sleepers.

So if you were looking for somewhere to stay in a big city, the chances are you’d be want to stay somewhere bright, airy and close to the hustle, bustle and attractions of the CBD. This isn’t a description of a high end luxury hotel – it’s a shelter for the homeless.

James Furzer, an architect from London, has won an award for his innovative designs for ‘pods’ that could provide a more comfortable night for homeless people.

exterior pod close-up

The static pods are made of plywood on a steel frame and the idea is that they would be bolted to the side of buildings. The shelters look a little bit like a small home extension and have a mattress, some storage space and a small living area. The idea is that they would be attached to the side of a building, so that homeless people can access them easily in the day, if the weather’s bad, or at night for a dry, safe nights sleep.

Furzer, thinks it’s time we changed our attitudes towards homeless people and says they have the right to be treated with the same respect as anyone else. He came up with the idea for the pods when he noticed the growing number of metal spikes which have been placed around buildings in his native London. The short, stubby spikes are set in the ground in popular sleeping spots to stop the homeless from rolling out their swag.

The design uses the thermal qualities of the wood, as well as having large windows to let in light. Inside the pod, there would be a shelf with a mattress and storage space underneath.

homeless pod interior

Furzer hopes the shelter protects the homeless from the harsh and unpredictable weather conditions of Britain, but also from the general public who feel the homeless should be frowned upon and mistreated.

The idea would be potentially for a pod like  to be donated to a homeless charity, who could monitor it for a number hours every evening. The logistics of organising and monitoring the use of the pods would appear to be complicated. How would they be allocated, policed, monitored, cleaned and regulated?

There are all sorts of issues that need to be ironed out. Would you like to see these pods in your town or city? How would you feel if one was attached to a building you live or work in?

The design won the top prize in the Space for new Visions competition organised by Farko, a global manufacturer of roof windows and loft ladders.

The competition – which came with a 5,000 Euro (AU$7383) prize – featured around 60 entrants from around the world.

It’s homelessness prevention week this week and this is one example of an innovative solution to help the homeless. What do you think should be done in Australia to alleviate homelessness?


Starts at 60 Writers

The Starts at 60 writers team seek out interesting topics and write them especially for you.

  1. I think anything that gets these people off the street and into somewhere warm and safe at night is a good idea, this current Government is doing nothing for them, how hard would it be to convert empty warehouses into sleeping space and it would create employment ?

  2. How will they get up there? I think it’s a great idea. It’s sad to think that we have homeless people. The government should be ashamed of themselves!!

    2 REPLY
    • It’s not just the government that should be ashamed. So should our society at large. We shoved them out on the streets in the first place. Unfortunately not all families are love-embracing social units.

  3. Great idea but this Abbott Government cut funding for the homeless, I can’t see them helping these people in any way. In wealthy country like Australia , no one should be forced to sleep on the streets

    4 REPLY
    • Many people sleep on the street by choice because they do not want to adhere to the rules of the shelters. It’s a lifestyle choice.

    • What a load of rubbish, john Green…..a lot sleep rough because shelters are full!!!!….there certainly are no empty beds!!!!

    • that is not at all correct John Green, no one chooses to sleep out in the cold in winter and there are many children on the street with their parents

    • I’m not sure whether John Green is correct or not – has anybody seen the results of any survey? I think mental health issues may be involved. This idea certainly looks as if it could be a partial solution to a difficult problem. I would challenge any concerned Rotary club to take this on as a project, and would be happy to make a modesy donation towards it.

  4. Those of us who have a roof over our head, a warm bed to sleep in and food on the table tend to ignore the plight of the ‘homeless’, often viewing them as lazy, drug addicted, useless individuals whose situation is of their own doing. I applaud this innovative idea. I would rather see the taxpayers money being spent on the homeless rather than providing politicians with the perks of public life.

  5. Many of these people are forced onto the streets, they lose their jobs and only get around $300 a week on Newstart, that does not even cover the rent in somewhere like Sydney. I would prefer our tax money is spent on them rather than on Bishops helicopter flights

  6. idealistic, no one wants to deal with the ever growing population of the homeless. but its a wonderful concept

  7. It’s a band aid at best. We should be helping people get inside the buildings, not making the street more comfy?

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