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  1. #1
    SilvrSurfr's Avatar
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    Homeless Hammock Challenge!

    I've been thinking about how hammocks could help the homeless. What's the cheapest hammock/tarp/suspension system for homeless people you could build that would keep folks dry and warm? Should we have a contest to build the ultimate homeless hammock?

    What got me thinking about this was an article in the San Francisco Chronicle about Veronica Scott, a woman who developed a cheap coat/sleeping bag for homeless people:

    http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/articl...BAHR1L2HK8.DTL

    These coat/sleeping bags sound like the bomb. They weigh just one lb., and you get to multipurpose! Maybe she should sell them to Hammock Forums members? At least she could send us some to field test.

    Veronica takes "synthetic quilting used in industrial clothing and stitches it to an outer shell of Tyvek." She says she and her friends "have been able to sleep in 17-degree weather, in the snow, and stay warm." She says the coat/sleeping bag costs $7 to 10 dollars to produce.

    So what do you say, hammock hangers? Will you take the challenge to produce a hammock for the homeless, but also for the extremely frugal among us on this forum?

    I think, for a truly affordable hammock system for the homeless, you have to have a target price of no more than $50. This ain't Cadillac hammock hanging all pimped out with Titanium doohickeys. Oh, no! This is down and dirty - a get-off-the-ground survival system for po' folk. And there ain't nothin' wrong with bein' po.

    So here's a suggested criteria for rating homeless hammock weather shelters:

    1. Price - the cheaper to produce the more people it will help.
    2. Durability - If the price is low enough, durability may not be that important. I could even see disposable, bio-degradable materials being used. Disposable hammocks! Can you imagine? Remember to pack your disposable hammock out of the campsite and leave no trace.
    3. Adaptability - the urban environment presents different challenges, since there may be no trees. Therefore, an adaptable suspension system seems to be a pre-requisite of the homeless hammock challenge.
    4. Availability - products to make homeless hammock shelter should be readily available.
    5. Complexity - Minimize. For example, less sewing is probably better.
    6. Weight

    Not sure how to weight these categories.

    Let the homeless hammock challenge begin!

  2. #2
    Senior Member ljcsov's Avatar
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    Really?

    I understand creating a coat for the homeless which will be beneficial to their general survival, especially in a harsh winter climate where threats of hypothermia prove eminent. Moreover, the function of the coat developed by the San Franciscan woman yields a twofold use that provides two basic necessities for a person left in such unfortunate conditions.

    Your efforts to help the homeless should not go without commendation, but this fails to be a viable solution. Does the public want to make homelessness a "comfortable" thing or promote it by creating homeless camps? I think not. Shelters serve the purpose of providing a warm and dry environment during inclement weather situations. In addition, it can be a vital tool for giving these people the skills and resources to provide for themselves.

    I do not think this is a good idea. It doesn't help the homeless and it doesn't help the public. It promotes trespassing and other detrimental issues that will hurt the community. To add, such problems do not help someone in the unfortunate position of being homeless.

    Help them get back on their feet. Do not promote the activity.

  3. #3
    SilvrSurfr's Avatar
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    I was thinking more along the lines of a low-cost hammock/survival system. I've seen a post recently about a $32 Scout hammock setup, and sought the opinions of HF members on the viability of hammocks as shelter for homeless people. I really thought of it as a materials question, rather than a political question.

    I doubt that a weather shelter for homeless people will encourage the homeless to trespass. When you are homeless, everywhere you go is trespassing or malingering or public nuisance. That's the thing about being homeless: You have no home. Your options are limited.

    And homeless shelters are great, but many have a first-come, first-served policy. Capacity 100 and you are 101? Good night, Irene. You're on the streets tonight.

    Reminds me of a song by Bruce Springsteen:

    "The highway is alive tonight
    But where it's headed everybody knows
    I'm sittin' down here in the campfire light
    Waitin' on the ghost of Tom Joad

    Now Tom said "Mom, wherever there's a cop beatin' a guy
    Wherever a hungry newborn baby cries
    Where there's a fight 'gainst the blood and hatred in the air
    Look for me Mom I'll be there
    Wherever there's somebody fightin' for a place to stand
    Or decent job or a helpin' hand
    Wherever somebody's strugglin' to be free
    Look in their eyes Mom you'll see me."

    The highway is alive tonight
    But nobody's kiddin' nobody about where it goes
    I'm sittin' down here in the campfire light
    With the ghost of old Tom Joad"

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mzRbeHyIomk

  4. #4
    Senior Member Catavarie's Avatar
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    Having spent several years in EMS as a Paramedic I can assure you that if there is any sort of homeless community in your city then there are already camps setup. Tent cities built in abandoned, over grown lots. Cardboard box/pallet towns setup in abandoned wharehouses. Even communities of baggers (basically they live in a bag, whether its a trash bag or sleeping bag) stuffed under bridges. I don't see a problem with the prospect as an intellectual exercise.

    For my entry weather protection would be in the form of a tyvek tarp. Tyvek costs roughly $1 per linear foot. So $10 for a 10x10 tarp, pretty good starting point IMO.
    The hammock itself it really is difficult to beat ripstop nylon for performance, weight, and price. Figure 3 yards at $5 per yard so $15 for the hammock body.
    Suspension can be had for $10 in rachet straps.
    Throw in another $5 for various lines.

    So for a grand total of $40 you have a full system.
    *Heaven best have trees, because I plan to lounge for eternity.

    Good judgement is the result of experience and experience the result of bad judgement. - Mark Twain

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  5. #5
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    I would have to agree if you have any homeless population at all, the camps are there you just may not see them and for them to have a shelter to rely on is not such a bad thing as most shelters are constantly full as it is. Plus IMHO opinion it would help reduce some of the 911 calls in the winter as both PD and EMS get called out for subjects you either just want to go to jail or the hospital to get out of the weather when they con not get in the shelter and fire departments have to respond to many abandoned house fires after their makeshift heating system catches the house on fire, so I am all for it.

  6. #6
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    What an interesting and thought provoking challenge.

    As I thought about this, the obstacle that kept coming up in my mind is how do you prioritize the 'parts' that would be needed for the system?

    What is mean by that is what comes after the hammock? Most all of us here know that with any type of temp below 70*F or so, you need an UQ, so do you need to incorporate that into the system? And a tarp is also a fairly obvious need as well. So should you try to develop a system that includes, at a minimum, a hammock, UQ and tarp?

    If I am not careful, I open Pandora's Box on myself, so to speak.

    I guess all that to say that I don't know all the answers, heck, I am not sure I even know the questions, but I am willing to try and help.

    Thanks, SilvrSurfr, for the OP.

  7. #7
    Senior Member Law Dawg (ret)'s Avatar
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    Far too complicated both in the set up requirements and insulation. A bivy with pad and sleeping bag set up would be more like it. One sad fact of life is many of the homeless have serious substance abuse issues and a mistake in insulation could be deadly...needs to be virtually dumb proof.
    Mark is the name and If there is more than one way to understand what I just said....I meant the good one.

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  8. #8
    Senior Member bdbart's Avatar
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    Grand trunk has one for $20 on amazon...comes with suspension.... I agree on the tyvek tarp idea $10.... and to top it off an Incubator....$264
    My memory's not as sharp as it used to be. Also, my memory's not as sharp as it used to be.

  9. #9
    Senior Member wyleone's Avatar
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    One other thing that can be mentioned but minimal that can be done about it. You hand out something that looks nice to a homeless person that really deserves and needs it....will become a target to be killed for it. It is a sad fact of this life we look upon.
    Education will never be as expensive as ignorance-Fortune cookie

  10. #10
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    Another consideration...the difficulty of finding SAFE and suitable hanging spots in an urban environment. They won't know or consider the stresses of hanging on a structure, and there simply aren't a ton of places in a city that they can hang a hammock that doesn't pose some kind of risk.

    Just some thoughts.

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