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Portland nonprofit develops rigid plastic tents for homeless people

Oregon Harbor Of Hope has sent six new tents into the field as prototypes and they are gearing up for more.

PORTLAND, Ore. — Homer Williams with Harbor of Hope is on a mission to help the homeless find a path back to housing.

The nonprofit addresses the basic needs of the homeless population in Portland and surrounding communities. Last year they handed out thousands of tents and sleeping bags.

But all the rain Portland gets was a problem for their clients. "All their clothes get soaked, their sleeping bags get soaked, their feet rot," explained Williams. "So I just thought they needed to be a better solution." 

Williams teamed up with LIT workshop to come up with a solution and came up with rigid tents made out of corrugated plastic. 

They are warmer, waterproof and sturdier than regular tents. The inventors went around Portland with the tents and asked homeless people what they thought. They used that feedback to perfect the tent. 

The floor is now insulated with enough space for 2 people, their belongings and a pet. There's also a light and a solar pad to charge cell phones.

Credit: CK
A look inside Harbor of Hope's rigid tents

So far six of these tents are being tested out in the community with plans to release more. "They will do best, and the clients will do best, in a facility that is protected and managed," said Williams. 

He hopes the tent will serve as a path off the streets. "Of course we want them to move on, maybe to a tiny house, maybe it's to a repurposed motel or an apartment that will get built," he said. 

He says regardless of how small the first step is, the priority lies in getting people into a safe place where they can stay healthy. "If we can do that, we can be successful," said Williams, "If we can't get people off the street, we will not get our city back, it's that simple."

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