This project transforms surplus construction materials into functional raingear and temporary shelter. Members of the public participate in communal “sewing circles” to create breathable, waterproof ponchos, tote bags, and other garments that are distributed by outreach workers to people experiencing homelessness.

Background

Major cities across the United States are undergoing rapid increases in both the cost of housing and the number of people experiencing homelessness. Here in Seattle, the housing market is booming. Over the past 4 years, median home prices are up by 31%, and rental prices have increased by 35%. Rapid price inflation has been accompanied by two distinct but related trends. On the one hand, changing prices are linked to a building boom, with $3.5B in construction currently underway. At the same time, over 10,000 people in Seattle are experiencing homelessness, including nearly 4,000 who sleep outside.

By designing, fabricating, and distributing raingear via a community-based supply chain, this project brings the construction industry, human service agencies, and members of the public together around a topic of mutual concern. The goals for the project are to provide useful products to vulnerable members of our city, create opportunities for active public engagement, and stimulating public discourse about Seattle’s housing crisis.

Garment 1: Poncho

This lightweight, waterproof garment can be configured as a poncho, bivvy sack, or temporary shelter. Designed for simplicity and ease of use, it can be produced by people with rudimentary sewing skills.

 

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