Thursday, August 22, 2013

My name is Gary Pickering. I'm from Pleasant Grove, Utah, and I created Dignity Roller Pods for the homeless. I'm not trying to make money or get attention. I simply want to spread my idea so others can build them.

See a short YOUTUBE video of the shelters here.

Or scroll below, or click on the links to the right, to see more examples of the shelters and how to build them. It's relatively easy and inexpensive. You can customize yours to your own liking ... your very own roller pod. You can do it! And let me know if I can help! 

-- Gary Pickering, (801) 785-2900, 

Media coverage we've received

In late July 2013, KSL TV came to my house and did a story on me and my Dignity Roller Pods: "Utah man builds micro shelters for the homeless"
By Sam Penrod, July 30, 2013

The KSL story was shared widely and picked up by several national media outlets, some of which called and interviewed me, including the following:

By Beth Greenfield, Shine Staff | Healthy Living, Friday, August 2, 2013

The Huffington Post: "Gary Pickering, Formerly Homeless Man, Builds Portable Shelters For People Living On The Street In Utah"
By Nader Salass, August 1, 2013

Why The Need? 

In a letter to the editor posted in the Daily Herald in December 2012, we're reminded that local regulations usually do not allow church groups to set up temporary "warming" shelters to help the homeless. Hence the need for alternative, temporary housing solutions such as these roller pods. See more reasons in the "Other Resources - and Reasons to Build Them" link to the right. 

-- Gary

Friday, August 16, 2013

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Other Resources - and Reasons to Build Them

Here are some examples of others who have built similar shelters, and a few reasons why they are needed. 

1) Search "Mico-Shelters for the homeless" on YouTube. The video shows how the good people of Grass Valley, Nevada County, Calif. in 2011 built 40 OSB  plywood, wheeled shelters for the homeless people living in their area. Great people.

2) Paul  Elkins' "Homeless or Emergency Shelter" video on YouTube. A genius of a man with great ideas and inventions. This is were I learned about Coroplast. Thank you, Paul.

3) "Dignity Village" on YouTube. In Portland, Oregon, the city loaned some land that the homeless people could have their homes on. This is public land that we all own - you, me and them too. 

About 10 years ago 100 or more homeless people had a sit in because they had no place to go and had been kicked out from place to place, harassed by the police for being on "public property" and for "trespassing." All because people complained. So, you might ask, WHERE CAN A HOMELESS PERSON BE?

The proper thing for cities and states to do is what Portland did and allow our homeless brothers and sisters and children to have a safe place to put these Survival Shelters and Survival Pods. This way they will not be run off by the police. There are safe and unused public and private lands -- and unused buildings -- all over the United States. These places are away from traditional neighborhoods but still close to services for the homeless.  

We the people need to stand up for our homeless children, women and men!

Note: In March 2011 an Associated Press story (link here: ) informed that in Orange County, Calif., just two miles from Disneyland, there are 25,000 to 35,000 homeless people living in dirty, old tents and two-thirds of them are women and children. Twenty-five thousand in one area!

Think about this. It may not seem likely now, but you and I could be only a few paychecks away, or a divorce away, from being homeless. Don't think it can't happen to you. I'm one who learned that lesson. I thought I would always have my home. Wrong! 

These shelters and pods could be set up in areas that do not bother other people. It could be like a mini trailer park, planned out nicely, with these good looking shelters and pods. With rules, of course. 

Remember these are NOT meant to be permanent housing. They are on wheels. They keep one safe. And they are to be kept clean by the homeless person, with a trash roll-off can, moveable port-a-potty for sanitation, and security from the homeless person themselves. They can have a water trailer like the army use. And then given a central center with electricity for washing clothes and cooking, and computers ... you get the idea. 

Most of these people want the *dignity* of a place to call their own. And a physical address to tell an employer, just until they can have a real place of their own. It would cheaper for the taxpayer to do this than what we have now. In Provo, Utah in 2011 or 2012, according to the Daily Herald, the Provo Food and Care Coalition spent *one million dollars* to put up homeless people for 3 nights in motels. 

How many other homeless shelters are wasting money that could be use to buy property and materials for these shelters and pods? And they would give the homeless people a chance to have some dignity and respect for themselves and from other people.

In Japan they have whole hotels of 4' x 4' x 8' cubes with lights, TV's, desks and beds and closing slide-down doors, which they rent to the people during the week so they don't have to commute long distances until the weekend. I have read that such shelters are now in New York City and other state are starting to get them as well.             

-- Gary P.

Overview of How I Built Them

Overview of How I Built my Survival Shelters and Pods (aka "Dignity Roller Pods"):                                                                                                          
- I start with sheets of  4' X 8'  OSB pressed wood, like plywood but cheaper. As of August 2013, Home Depot sells them for $10.55 a sheet. 
- I buy 2"X 4"s and with my table saw cut them length wise to make them 2"X 2"s. Makes the pods lighter and can build more pods cheaper. 

- I buy 10" wheels and tires from Harbor Freight Tools here in Orem, Utah (retail: $9.95, on sale: $3.99.) You need 2 per pod. They are rated at 300 lbs. each tire. 
- Also 5" swivel wheels, rated 300 lbs., one or two (your choice) for the front of the pod.  

- The axel is 5/8" round steel rod from Metal Mart in Lehi, Utah. I buy a 20' bar for about $35 (makes 4  axel's).

- Also at Metal Mart I buy 6' long,  2" wide steel or aluminum hinges, which I cut with my hack saw to 3" and drill the holes in the hinges for my doors (cost: $10 - $13). 

- For the wood on the sides of the pod that holds the two ends together, I use drywall  screws 2" long to hold my 2" X 2"  side frames, and 3 " wood screws to hold the bottom frame together, and some to hold the OSB to the floor, and finish with 1-1/2 " shingle nails down through the OSB. (I like the big heads of the shingle nails.)

- I use a screw in eye bolt on the front of the pod to put a bolt and nut with washers through connected to my my 3/4" conduit pull handle, which I weld across it a 3/4 conduit about 8" long for the handle.

- I use 1/8" plexiglass for my windows, in which I cut a round 9" DI hole in the Coroplast cover side. (Note: Coroplast is a brand name of corrugated plastic.) And from the inside I put a 12" X 12" piece of plexiglass, held with 3/4" long small bolts and nut and washers. 
- I seal the windows inside with Silicon chalk. I use hinges for a small shelf inside the pod held up with chain or ropes (from a top 2" X 2") on one of the sides to a 2" X 2" in the middle about 19" high.  

- On the top I use a white PVC Tee for drains that is 4" DI (at Home Depot today for $3.18). That is a vent. 
- I cut a hole in the top, and silicon it in the top and bottom.
- I also buy a kerosene lantern (from Walmart) that I hang up very close to vent it (cost: $6.99).

- I use 1/2" or 3/4" white polystyrene flexible insulation (4' X 8' sheet) that I bend inside the round top of the pod and down the sides (cut to fit) for $10.76.  
- I use 1" solid insulation on the bottom under the floor between the frame 2" X 2", aluminum foil side down ($12 - $19? at Home Depot). 

- I carpet the floor with good used carpet or buy cheap new carpet from Home Depot. 
- I buy an exterior paint for the ends, and underneath on the 2" X 2" frame cross members ($23 ?) 

- The Coroplast I get in Salt Lake City from a plastic company. It is used by sign companies to make lawn signs for elections. (Look online to see where some is sold close to you.) In Utah, a 4' X 8' sheet costs about $15, and comes in many colors. (Note: DO NOT BUY THE CLEAR. I tried it for a solar heat on the front top of the pods, and in 6 to 8 months the sun turned it brittle and it broke up. I had to replace it with a colored piece of Coroplast.)
- I use drywall screws 1-1/2" and washers or a strip for thin wood or metal to put on my Coroplast roof, down the bottom frame and across the ends. Reason being, if I have to replace a piece of Coroplast, I use my battery drill screw driver to remove the screws and replace the Coroplast sheet. I over lap the Coroplast about 3" and use a silicon chalk between the sheets to seal from wind and water.  (Coroplast is like plastic cardboard with air in between, so is a good insulator but still cuts easy with a razor knife. 

- All the Dignity Roller Pods are built the same. Choose your size:
- 5' long X 36" (or 40" or 48") wide.  
- For 5' Long  6' long,  8' long, or 10' long, cut 3" off your wood floor, shorter than the length to allow for the 3"overlap of the Coroplast. 
- How high depends on how wide you make your pod. 
- The Coroplast is 8' long and is the way it goes over your pod, so at 40" wide you will only be about 35" high. 
- You cut your end pieces to whatever height you want your pod to be, then you add a 3" or 6" or 9" or 12' or 24" (or other height ) side board the length that you are making your pod (5', 6', 7', 8', 10', etc.). Your choice. 
- I like the 7' 9" long  X 48" floor because that is the size of a piece of the bottom  O S B  wood .
- Cut 3" or 4" or 5" off the end of the floor to allow for the Coroplast overlap. Add two 12" high side boards cut to 7' 9" long, and you should have a 48" high X 48" wide X 7' 9" pod. 

- You will see in the pictures that I have a conduit or PVC  U frame in the front of the pods that can be lowered by removing the top bolt for traveling, if you want. That is the base for a privacy shelter for your 5 gallon bucket port-a-potty, and for dressing, etc. 
- I use cheap Harbor Fright Tool tarps 9' X 7' and the smaller ones for the top. Tie the tarp to the frame and leave a side that can open to get in and out.

Have fun and help the Homeless.                                           
Gary  P. 

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Survival Tube Cave For One

                           Survival Tube Cave For One                                 9'  long X  7' wide cheap tarp. Sale price: $4.99 at Harbor Freight Tools (in Utah). Duct taped long wise, both sides. Five pieces, 1/2 inch PCV pipe. With zip ties and PVC tees.  36" long (maybe?) Try one and adjust the length, and rope.     


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