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    Posted October 15, 2010 by
    Los Angeles, California
    This iReport is part of an assignment:
    Are you making a difference?

    EDAR: A Homeless Shelter and Cart in One


    EDAR (Everyone Deserves A Roof) is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that provides unique mobile shelters to homeless men, women and children. Our mission is to provide short-term, immediate shelter to homeless individuals and families.  We distribute mobile shelter units through a network of partnerships in order to reduce the number of individuals sleeping in the open and to support their dignity and hope.


    An EDAR is a four-wheeled unit, based on a cart design that provides security for belongings, privacy and protection from the elements. During the day, the EDAR is a compact portable unit with sturdy wheels and provides storage. At night, the EDAR unit opens up and provides a comfortable place to sleep.  The unit is waterproof, windproof and helps protect from the elements. By refolding the unit, the EDAR quickly returns to its compact design and can be pushed around as a cart for use during the day.


    Established in December 2007, EDAR was conceptualized after founder Peter Samuelson noticed an increase of homeless individuals and interviewed them to find out what they needed most. He then took his idea to the Pasadena Art  Center and sponsored a student contest to design the EDAR concept.  Following the contest, he and two students brought the idea to a shopping cart manufacturer to produce the units.  In the summer of 2008, 60 units were launched in the Greater Los Angeles area as a beta-test. The units were tested for functionality and design, to determine the best methods of distribution and follow-up.


    Following a successful beta-test, our organization continues to distribute units, bringing our current total of units distributed to 170, with 50 additional units currently being manufactured. The units are being used indoors and outdoors in both urban and rural settings. Current EDAR users range in age and gender and may sometimes be a single individual or a family with children. We have also expanded to beta-test units in other areas such as Camden, NJ and Tempe,  AZ.  Additional expansion efforts are in progress, with volunteer teams and demo units in cities around the country.


    EDAR is unique in our approach to helping homeless individuals.  We distribute our innovative units through partnering organizations that have an existing homeless outreach program such as shelters, food banks and churches.  This distribution model allows EDAR units to get to those that need a unit most and provides EDAR users access to social services that our partners provide. We have also found the EDAR unit to work as a tool to build relationships between the EDAR user and the partner agency.


    While critics may say this is “enabling the homeless population,” we have seen people who were labeled “chronically homeless” quit their drug habit and move into transitional housing after receiving an EDAR. When asked why she decided to go into transitional housing at that time, one EDAR user said that the unit reminded her of what it was like to have a real bed with a mattress.


    With the help of generous supporters, EDAR continues to expand our efforts in the Greater Los Angeles community as well in other cities.  Visit www.edar.org for more information or to donate.

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