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ES22: Design Survivor

April 2018 (Week Long Challenge)

Over the course of two weeks, I worked on a team of four to answer the following question:

What resources can we provide to those experiencing homelessness during extreme cold weather conditions, particularly during time that the city does not deem an emergency? 

We began this project by interviewing those within Boston and Harvard Square who had expert or inside knowledge to our target population. Our initial fieldwork included interviews with business establishments, homeless shelters, and observations. From these interviews we learned that while Boston frequently has extreme cold weather conditions -- days where the weather is below freezing and may experience rain or snow -- there is no protocol for providing shelter for those experiencing homelessness aside from people already housed by a homeless shelter. Additionally, shelters have strict mandates that prevent them from increasing resources unless the city deems a weather emergency -- which is defined by driving conditions in Boston. Our fieldwork prompted us to focus on helping those experiencing homelessness during these extreme weather conditions who are not already house by shelters. 

Our solution came up to Street Heat -- a vending machine that distributes multi-hour heat packs to those experience homelessness to provide warmth when there are no longer resources to provide full shelter. The specific goals of Street Heat is to provide resources to those experiencing homelessness that do not need to rely on volunteers or institutions and can still increase safety for these users. For more information about street heat and how the vending machine works, please refer to the presentation to the left. 

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