A formerly homeless Utah man now designs temporary shelters for others without a place to live. Seventy-three-year-old Gary Pickering of Pleasant Grove, Utah, who was homeless in the late 1980s due to a divorce, used his personal experience as inspiration to begin creating these “survival pods.” “I believe a person needs the dignity of something they can call their own, even if it’s only this,” Pickering told Utah’s local TV station, KSL.
Pickering, a retired auto-body shop owner, lived in his shop for about three years. During that time, he allowed other homeless people to live outside his shop. “It was 1988, which was a bad winter, but they lived in my van all through the winter,” said Pickering. Some of the people he met refused to go to shelters because they were afraid to have their possessions stolen or to not be allowed to bring their dogs with them.
In 2009, after getting back on his feet, he saw a homeless man while driving around and built him a shelter. Unfortunately the man was not there when he returned, but it got Pickering thinking about creating more temporary shelters. The survival pods he builds are micro houses, about four feet wide and eight feet long. He says he knows his pods may not be for everyone. However, “If people can find jobs, of course they will move on. They will get a house back and their cars, but until then, this will help them.”
The pods Pickering builds are made up of a wooden frame, sheets of pressed wood, and a roof made of corrugated plastic. There are vents in the pod that allow for the use of a kerosene lamp for lighting, and the pod can be hooked up to electricity. There is enough room in them for a sleeping bag and a few small items. Each pod costs about $500 to construct, but Pickering isn’t looking to profit from his creations. “I didn’t do this as a business, I don’t want a business. I want to inspire other people,” he said.
Pickering has created his own blog and posted pictures of the building process to help others build pods of their own to give to those without a home. He says he believes everyone deserves a place to call their own, and for some, these pods may be exactly what they need.
Gary’s Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Survival Pod Slide Show