Simon Rowe's plan to get some of Australia's homeless off the streets and into his Sleepbus for a good night's rest has received a lot of media attention. And as a result, his GoFundMe web page has raised more than $100,000 in donations. That's enough to launch his first Sleepbus pilot and the first step toward his goal of 300 mobile shelters.
What is a Sleepbus?
Rowe designed his rolling homeless shelter to accommodate 18 to 22 sleep pods, each with a personal locker. The buses will have toilets, Wi-Fi, television monitors, pet kennels and an intercom system for use by families. The buses will also have paid caretakers on board.
Rowe has been homeless himself. He says in the 1990s he lived in a car after falling behind on rent and being evicted. He also says he's made a good living in the years since as a chef and entrepreneur.
Now he's trying to help the 6,000+ of Australia's 105,000 homeless who sleep "in the rough" every night. More than 1,000 of those, according to his sleepbus.org site, are younger than 12.
He's not out to replace homeless shelters, but rather to fill a gap. He realizes his buses aren't a long-term solution to homelessness, he tells the Daily Telegraph. They aren't offering counseling, they won't serve meals -- they're simply providing a safe, comfortable sleep.
The idea is that the bus can go where it's needed most and offer a quality rest, without which "homeless individuals are often left in a haze of fatigue, confusion, depression and illness, which in turn makes it harder for them to interact with others and secure a job," notes Huffington Post.
Sleeping on concrete
A brief encounter with a homeless man is what moved Rowe to his Sleepbus concept.
"That man, trying to sleep on a concrete floor, in the middle of the day, on a busy city street affected me in a profound way," Rowe wrote on his GoFundMe page. "And that’s a mild story; for many sleeping on the streets are being subjected to terrible weather, harassment, bullying, being robbed and worse. No one should have to live like that."
This article is from the Council's Compassionate Cities initiative which highlights how city leaders and other stakeholders can leverage smart technologies to end suffering in their communities and give all citizens a route out of poverty. Click the Compassionate Cities box on our registration page to receive our weekly newsletter.
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