inventing shelter ideas (FWD)

Virginia Sellner (
Thu, 16 Apr 1998 08:06:43 -0600 (MDT)

By Catherine Dunphy
Toronto Star Staff Reporter

Think about it.

  *  Cubbyhole niches under an Allan Gardens
Victorian-style bandstand where the homeless would hang up
a blanket on the hook and sleep comfortably under heat
borrowed from the greenhouse.

  *  Portable Shelter Units or backpacks that fold out to
become a padded sleeping surface and shelter, complete
with window.

  *  The bright red Homepack, the over-the-shoulder tent
kit a homeless person could take to where the jobs are.

  *  The St. James Park Bench with translucent acrylic
breadbox-style retractable cover - creating sleeping space
for two.

    Each is a student-created solution for the shelter and
safety of Toronto's homeless. None exists - yet.

    But Ryerson architecture student Franco Casini says
Homepacks could be produced for as little as $20 a unit by
the homeless themselves.

    ``The solution is to make sure the problem is not
hidden,'' he said yesterday to workers with the homeless,
and members of the city's task force on homelessness at
Ryerson Polytechnic University.

    Landscape architect students from the University of
Guelph, and Ryerson architectural students presented
mockups and models of their ideas of how homeless people
who don't patronize shelters could make it through cold
winter nights.

    `It's not a badge saying homeless'

    It was the first time the two faculties had worked
together. The project was initiated by Guelph professor
Nancy Pollock-Ellwand.

    ``We're not going to come up with the perfect solution
here but we could come up with the best compromise,'' she

    Student Susan Preston said people with homes should
start interacting with the homeless and start sharing some
of the same facilities.

    ``All places (in Allan Gardens) could be used by
everybody. People have the idea that if the facility is
only for the homeless, it's icky,'' she said.

    But nobody thought they'd come up with a solution for
the over-all problem.

    ``The homeless issue can't be solved in a seven-week
project,'' said student Angela Wobetzky. But Seaton House
worker Richard Coleman said some of the students' ideas
could work.

    ``I know the guys who sleep in the St. James (park)
gazebo now and they'd probably respond to the (St. James
Park) bench,'' he said. ``They like to drink cheap wine
and they would crash right there.''

    He also said the Homepack could be popular with people
who move from place to place. ``Lots of people have
shoulder bags. It's not a badge saying homeless, like the
backpack would be.''

    Contents copyright 1996-1998, The  Toronto  Star.

 Speak only words of truth.
 Speak only of the good qualities of others.
 Be a confidant and carry no tales.
 Dhyani Ywahoo,"Voices of our Ancestors, Cherokee teachings from the Wisdom

Wyoming Coalition for the Homeless
P. O. Box 1232
Cheyenne, WY 82003