Today’s Solutions: May 25, 2024

Five years ago, Dutch designer Bas Timmer heard tragic news: A friend’s father, who had become homeless, had died of hypothermia one night while sitting outside a shelter waiting for it to open. Timmer, a recent fashion school graduate, had been working on winter clothing for his new brand and was struck with a sense of guilt—his clothing store was 500 meters from where that man died. In search of a warm solution for those living on the street, Timmer designed Sheltersuit: a warm, waterproof jacket with a zipper on the bottom that can attach a second piece at night to transform into a sleeping bag. An oversized hood helps shade streetlight when someone tries to sleep, and a built-in scarf adds warmth. Big pockets store belongings. A backpack stores everything during the day. All of the parts are made from upcycled materials, including tents and sleeping bag fabric donated from manufacturers. Timmer started by making 100 of them, but demand for Sheltersuit has kept growing—with plans to produce 6,000 this year now in place. Timmer donated more than 1,000 Sheltersuits to refugees living in camps is Greece, and now he’s designed a warm-weather version for the homeless in America. While the product serves an immediate need for the homeless, the process of giving them out to the homeless is also a way for homelessness organizations to start a relationship with someone living on the streets. Once contact is made and trust is built, organizations can then work to help the homeless get connected to housing, jobs, and other services.

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