'Hobo condo' is the home of the future: LA's EDAR project

Governor Schwarzenegger has announced that the California state fairgrounds, Cal-Expo, will be opened for residents of a rapidly growing tent village of homeless in the Sacramento area. The village will then be shut down. And if the Everyone Deserves A Roof (EDAR) Foundation was a public company rather than a not-for-profit, its stock would be red hot. The homes-on-wheels it distributes free to the homeless are a bright spot in a common but tragic situation.

The EDAR, nicknamed the hobo condo, resembles a shopping cart with a wheels upgrade. It can carry belongings and those items the homeless often collect to sell, such as aluminum cans. The real brilliance to the design, though, is that the cart includes a fold-out, sturdy, waterproof tent that provides a dry, private sleeping space wherever the homeless person chooses to spend the night.

The EDAR was developed by film producer Peter Samuelson, who wanted to help the homeless who would not or could not use homeless shelters. He sponsored a competition at the Pasadena Art Center College of Design. The winning design was the EDAR, which costs around $500 apiece.

Donations from people such as eBay's Jeff Skroll have started the ball rolling, but to build and distribute more EDARs, the EDAR Foundation accepts donations from the public. For $50, you can sponsor a wheel, $250 for a roof, and $500 buys a home for a homeless person. Since grocery store shopping carts cost $100 or more, each EDAR distributed should save the stores the cost of stolen carts.

For those of us who like to donate to programs that directly benefit the needy, the EDAR Foundation seems like a good choice. And the need is only growing.

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