What is the best way to help the homeless? Finding them a home and the means to keep it, of course, but the reasons people are on the streets are varied, and the most hardcore cases defy any formula for help. Cash is gone in no time, and possessions are difficult to keep without a place to keep them. Shelters are overcrowded, underfunded, and often dangerous. Many homeless people prefer to sleep on the streets.
Peter Samuelson, who produced Revenge of the Nerds and founded the Starlight Foundation, wrestled with this problem. He wanted to produce a single-person shelter that would work for the people who needed it most. Eric Lindeman and Jason Zasa won a contest Samuelson sponsored with their portable tent shelter design, which was tested and tweaked byÂ shopping cart manufacturer. The finished product is called called EDAR, an acronym for Everyone Deserves A Roof. EDAR is a four-wheeled device that resembles a shopping cart. During the day, it's a covered storage cart for possessions. At night it folds out into a military-grade tent on a platform. EDAR units are both flame retardant and waterproof, and can be locked. EDAR units, which cost a bit under $500, are given to those who can make the best use of them. Homeless shelters have ordered multiple units to use inside or to give to those who are "shelter-resistant". People who have them say they are quite comfortable, and make a hard life somewhat easier to deal with.
Not everyone thinks giving camping equipment to the homeless is a great idea. Samuelson responded to the idea that an EDAR encourages homelessness.
"Why is the EDAR not regressive?" he said. "Because it is not nearly as good as a shelter bed. There's no pretense it's as good as permanent or temporary brick-and-mortar housing." But it is, he says, "infinitely better than a damp cardboard box."