When Peter Samuelson started seeing more homeless people on the streets a few years ago he knew the recession was behind the increase. Taking a quick count during his daily bike ride he counted a least 60 people and decided he could no longer pass by without getting involved.
A TV producer by trade, Samuelson started by interviewing the people on the street to find out how they came to be there and why they weren't staying in a shelter. What he found was that many shelters could not accommodate all the people who needed a place to sleep and that beyond the 60 he saw in that one day, there are closer to 60,000 homeless in LA, just miles from some of the wealthiest neighborhoods in the country.
After doing the math he realized the cost to build shelters to house everyone was prohibitive, so he backed into a makeshift solution, which was to provide temporary mobile units that the shelters could distribute.
Like most AmericanTowns Heroes, he didn't have to look far for willing helpers. In addition to creating a design contest at the Pasadena Art Center College of Design, where the winning designers Eric Lindeman and Jason Zasa created numerous prototypes before settling on the best model, he found fabrication professionals John Ondrasic and Mike Orozco of Precision Wire Inc. willing to work pro bono to manufacture the mobile units. The ultimate cost of each unit is $500, which includes a day time mode where the person's belongings can be locked up and a nighttime mode that provides a place to sleep protected from the elements.
The mobile units are not the solution to homelessness: "It's a temporary path. Sleep on the sidewalk is stage 1. Sleep in the EDAR is stage 2. Start working with church services to find permanent housing is stage 3," says Samuelson.
The bottom line: Everyone Deserve a Roof and thanks to Peter Samuelson and EDAR, more people on the streets are finding greater safety and comfort, until they can get back on their feet.
If you would like to help provide shelter to those living on the streets of Los Angeles, there are ways you can donate. Learn more about EDAR mobile shelters at http://www.edar.org/history.