SaunaVelo could provide solution to keeping homeless warm

Portland native Simon Lyle’s goal is to build tiny homes that can be heated the same way his sauna is, for homeless people.

PORTLAND, Ore. — Sitting on a street corner in Southeast Portland is where, on most days, you will find it.

Of course what it is, is what we found a lot of people wondering.

Some think it's a huge wine barrel, others think it looks more like a spaceship.

And while it is not a spaceship, it is something we'll likely see a lot more of in the future.

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IT is the latest creation from Portland native Simon Lyle.

“This is a sauna,” Lyle said. “I made sure to make it long enough for me to lay down comfortably.”

Lyle came up with the idea after seeing something similar on a Scandinavian architect’s website.

But in perfect Portland style, Lyle found a way to make his sauna out of almost all salvaged stuff.

“I basically built it out of scraps,” he said. “This piece of plastic, I believe, I found in a dumpster at one point. I could easily heat this just walking around picking up sticks for 30 minutes.”

And while that is certainly cool and clever, it is not what makes Lyle’s sauna so special.

What makes it special is that those salvaged metal legs can come off and the entire hut can become mobile, hooked up to the back of Lyle’s bike.

“My favorite comment definitely was, ‘I don’t know what that is, but I like it,’ ” Lyle said. “Once I tell them it’s a sauna they get really excited and say, ‘Oh, I love saunas.’ ”

Because, when it gets cold, we all want to be warm. Which is why this story isn't just about a sauna, it's about a solution.

You see Lyle doesn't just make saunas.

He builds homes, specifically tiny homes. He and his brother own Born and Raised Construction.

Lyle’s goal is to build tiny homes that can be heated the same way his sauna is, for folks like Tony J.

Tony lives in one of Portland's homeless camps. And while he does live in a tiny house, the only way he stays warm is with blankets.

His, and all the shelters in the camp, do not have heat.

Lyle hopes to one day build shelters for the homeless and heat them similar to how he heats his sauna.

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In the meantime, you’ll still find him riding around with his SaunaVelo and inviting friends and neighbors inside.

If you're lucky, you may get an invitation to join.