the EDAR (short for Everyone Deserves a Roof), is a covered contraption that looks like the offspring of a shopping cart and a pop-up camper:

“I’ve always believed society is defined by how we deal with our weakest links…The best of America is when we take care of the less fortunate.” – Peter Samuelson

The LA Times reports on this upgrade from a cardboard box for the homeless

Christopher Raynor was kicked out of his home at the age of 13 and has lived on his own ever since. His EDAR now sits near Pacific Coast Highway and Temescal Canyon Road. “This is one of the greatest damn gifts you could ever give to anybody.”

The EDAR is the brainchild of Peter Samuelson, a philanthropist and film producer whose credits include “Revenge of the Nerds” and “Arlington Road.” His life could hardly be more different from Raynor’s.

Peter Samuelson went to Cambridge University on a full scholarship, earned a master’s degree in English literature and became fluent in French. He started in the film business as an interpreter for U.S. companies operating in Africa and Europe.

In 1975, after living off and on in Los Angeles, he settled here permanently, married an accountant and had four children.

“If you become an American on purpose, it’s a very special thing,” Samuelson, 57, said over breakfast at Nate’n Al deli in Beverly Hills. “America is not just a land of opportunity but also of personal responsibility. There’s an obligation to lift up society.”

Three years ago, on his twice-weekly bike rides to the beach from his Holmby Hills house, Samuelson realized that he was seeing more homeless people. For three weeks, he interviewed dozens of them — men, women and children.

“Where do you spend the night?” he asked one woman. She led him by the hand into the bushes and showed him a large cardboard Sub-Zero box.

“That was my epiphany moment,” Samuelson said. “I’ve got the refrigerator. She’s got the box. What is wrong with this picture?”

There are 73,700 homeless people living in LA County – 12,400 beds = 61,300 people without shelter.

Los Angeles has the largest homeless population in the United States.

His first instinct was to build shelters, but then he did the math. Building a bed in a facility runs $50,000 to $100,000. The cost to house all of the county’s street denizens would run into the billions. Besides, many of them resist services. So he thought: What is there that’s better than a damp box on a rainy night even if it’s not as good as a bed?

The idea of a mobile, single-person shelter popped to mind.

Samuelson sponsored a contest at the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena to design his “widget.”

Eric Lindeman and Jason Zasa took the honors, with a mobile shopping cart-like apparatus. The cart features bins to hold cans, bottles and other recyclables collected by day. It folds out to create a sleeping platform, topped by a canvas cover with zippers and windows.

Students at Rand Corp., the Santa Monica think tank, are interviewing EDAR users and representatives of shelters and missions to assess how the units might fit into a system of comprehensive care for the homeless.

Meanwhile, lawyers are sorting out legal issues. Will municipal codes allow users to park their units anywhere? What about constitutional questions and not-in-my-backyard complaints?

Samuelson anticipates those and other objections to his invention. Does the EDAR enable homelessness by making it more bearable? No, he insists.

“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.”

edar6736

Advertisements