The City of Berkeley estimates that nearly 1200 people are living on the streets, but that number only covers those that have been reported (BerkeleySide). That number is too low to adequately cover the amount of individuals moving through homelessness in Berkeley. The homeless community is large and they are up against the same problem: a lack of affordable housing. However, the fact that they are united by this one issue does not mean that each individual does not have different goals and different priorities. With this in mind, it is important to consider the wants of the community when offering up solutions.
One thing that homeless individuals do have in common is the basic reality that they need a way to keep warm at night, but they are responsible for carrying everything they own. The product created by The Empowerment Plan, based in Detroit, started with this idea, and grew into a sustainable business working to break the cycle of homelessness. Veronika Scott created a product designed to alleviate the challenges of mobility and staying warm with her EMPWR coat. The coat can be worn to keep warm, but it also transforms into a sleeping bag and an over-the-shoulder bag. This functional design efficiently addresses the day-to-day needs of a homeless individual. (more…)