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A formerly homeless Utah man has used his insight to create and build “survival pods,” or mini-shelters, to be doled out to people who currently have nowhere to live.
“I believe a person needs the dignity of something they can call their own, even if it’s only this,” Gary Pickering, a retired auto-body-shop owner in Pleasant Grove, told TV news station KSL Tuesday.
Pickering, 73, was technically homeless for three years following a divorce in the late 1980s, when he lived in his shop.
“I lost my home after I signed everything over to my wife and seven children,” he told Yahoo! Shine. “But I had a roof over my head.” Because his shop was in an industrial area, he got to know many of the homeless men who lived in broken-down cars or in other corners of the area, eventually housing four in his van during a particularly harsh winter.
He learned what it was like to not have a place to live, through the men he met, who explained that they didn’t go to shelters because of reasons ranging from “They steal my shoes” to “They won’t let me bring my dog.” Pickering became passionate about coming up with the perfect temporary shelter. And after years of trial and error, he believes he’s finally perfected the “survival pod”: a 4-foot-wide, 8-foot-long micro house constructed from sheets of pressed wood, a wooden frame and a roof made of soft corrugated plastic called Coroplast.
There’s room enough inside for a sleeping bag, a kerosene lamp (there are vents in the structure), several small items, and even a specially designed portable toilet. Plus, the pods can be hooked up to electricity, like a trailer, if parked on already wired property with the permission of a homeowner.
The pods are built on wheels, like trailers, to get around zoning codes for buildings, Pickering added, so they could be placed in empty warehouses, hangars or on a piece of ground just outside of a city.
if parked on already wired property with the permission of a homeowner.