German city builds sleeping pods to shelter homeless people from the cold

In the German city of Ulm, 75 miles west of Munich, people who don’t have a roof over their head can now benefit from a thoughtful initiative — the installation of a series of pods around the city for homeless people to be able to sleep in.

Called Ulmer Nests, the sleeping pods are made of wood and steel, and are meant to help shield those without homes from the cold, wind, and humidity. They are also made to fit up to two people.

While there are no cameras, when the doors are opened, motion sensors alert social workers that the pods are in use. The caretakers then check the pod following its use to ensure that it can be cleaned, and also to provide assistance to anyone using the shelter.

The nests are also equipped with solar panels and are connected to a radio network, ensuring the occupants can communicate without having to rely on mobile networks.

According to the creators of the Ulmer Nest, the pods are intended for those who cannot access usual homeless shelters either due to psychological factors or because they have a pet, for example. They also note that the pod is not an alternative to a more traditional hostel or housing facility, but that it serves as an “emergency last resort” alternative to sleeping in the outdoors.

Currently, the nests are part of a pilot program seeking to test whether the installations are suitable to protect against frostbite. If that’s the case, they could be adopted for a nationwide rollout.

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