More than half a million people in the United States are homeless, it is a problem that affects people of all genders, ages, cultures and backgrounds. This project is an exploration on how design can be a tool to impact and improve a homeless persons life.
What does it mean to be homeless?
Health centers funded by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) use the following definition for homelessness:
A homeless individual is defined in section 330(h)(5)(A) as “an individual who lacks housing (without regard to whether the individual is a member of a family), including an individual whose primary residence during the night is a supervised public or private facility (e.g., shelters) that provides temporary living accommodations, and an individual who is a resident in transitional housing.” A homeless person is an individual without permanent housing who may live on the streets; stay in a shelter, mission, single room occupancy facilities, abandoned building or vehicle; or in any other unstable or non-permanent situation. [Section 330 of the Public Health Service Act (42 U.S.C., 254b)]
Many words are used to describe the situation that these people are in, but it comes down to one thing:
They are alone.
Picture by Fred Hoerr  /
If you are homeless then you must be: a drug addict, an uneducated person, a lazy bum,  have mental issues...
You sleep on the street because: you want to, you are a difficult person, you don't want others to help...
These are some of the misconceptions we all think when we see a homeless person. Our society has educated us to think like this and this is why we are unsensitized to the problem.
If a person is alone and without support, who's responsibility is it to help?
Due to the complexity of the problem, I established three parameters to dictate what I would focus in.
Homelessness is a problem that cannot be solved in a day. There are many organizations already established to tackle this problem and these would be my allies, so together we can empower our client to get back on their feet and provide that support the system does not.
Project Proposal
Mission Statement
The Support Project is a non-profit organization focused on providing the support homeless people need to
getting back on their feet. Our team is comprised mainly by people who are or have been homeless. They arrive to our offices and we provide them with training and opportunities to learn and grow in the organization.
Step by step on how the business plan will be implemented to better the lives of our client.
Product Description
Backpack that serves as a roll out bed, made out of a water resistant fabric, easy to clean. It is lined with foam that serves as an insulator between the person and the floor. It has several compartments and an inner bag to store belonging. Has a modern urban aesthetics.
Patterns & Fabrication
Pattern and materials used to create prototype.
Services Offered
Apart from the training necessary to produce these backpacks, our client would also benefit from the following services:
-GED classes.
-An address to get mail.
- Information about other local resources.
-Meal Plan.
- Get ready program (morning showers).
- Job referrals. 
Retail marketing
Targeted demographic is a person who is into urban fashion and is willing to wait in line for the latest products. The backpack will be used as a roll out bed with all the previously mentioned benefits to endure sleeping a night outside. It will also be a great way for people to give back and help the homeless.
The system in place is missing focus on one thing: SUPPORT. 
My exploration through is project helped me understand better the problem of homelessness and how if there isn't a united front, not only of social workers and government employees, but also of local business, volunteers, etc...the problem of homelessness will not be solved. People do not only need money, but they need a support system that makes them feel safe in order to have a stable life.
Design can be a powerful tool when it comes to social innovation and this is my interpretation on how it can help.
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