Because I walk my dogs late at night in low-foot-traffic areas, I often see homeless people when they are bedding down for the night in their various contraptions, most of them coffin-like. Some sleep in large refrigerator cartons that they fold flat during the day; some have "nested" two or three smaller boxes with tape to make a longer sleeping structure; and one guy who sleeps just north of the Apple Store on Greene Street, in an alcove, has been fighting the recent rash of rain with a blue construction tarp. To get the water to run off of the tarp, he has attached one point of it to a bungy cord which he ties off to the padlock securing the roll-out gate against which he sleeps, creating a primitive but effective peak to his "tent."
Jin Hong, Sebastian Brauer, Ji In Sun, and Jackie Starker, four students at the University of the Arts in Philly, have come up with a line of "Wearable Shelter" clothing: "Three durable, watertight, and wind-resistant garments that are lightweight enough for everyday wear yet easily convertible into tents or sleeping bags that can brave the elements." Although the clothes, which are made from used sleeping bags, workout clothing and performance jackets, were designed for post-disaster scenarios, I can't help but think these would be perfect for the homeless.
Click here to see a gallery of the "Wearable Shelter" gear in action. Also, interested parties can contact Sebastian Brauer at email@example.com.