Gary Pickering Builds “Tiny House” Survival Pods for the Homeless (w/ video)

Gary Pickering is making the world a better place by donating a number of self-built, portable ‘micro-houses’ to Utah’s homeless people in an effort to help them survive the area’s harsh winter weather conditions. How’d he come up with that?

They say that necessity is the mother of invention. For Gary Pickering, years of being homeless and in need, himself, led him to an ingenious idea for creating miniature housing units to assist those in need. After going through a divorce in the 1980s, Pickering spent three years living out of a repair shop and getting to know the local homeless people who stayed in the industrial area, as well. He spoke with them about their needs and came to understand why why they avoided many of the local homeless shelters.

One day, after he had gotten back on his feet, Pickering happened to see a homeless man walking down the street in the Utah cold. Remembering his own needs and feeling some serious compassion, Gary went into his shop and built one of his small “survival pods” for the man like those you see here. There was no happy ending, though, “when I went to the find the man to give it to him,” he recalls, “I couldn’t find him again.”


This “failure” to provide for his fellow man led Gary on a quest to perfect a one person shelter that could be easily, cheaply, and quickly made for the local homeless population. After much trial and error, Pickering came up with a 4×8′ design that has enough room for a bed and a kerosene lamp. While the pod is certainly a viable commodity in a world that’s rapidly embracing extreme off-the-grid living and projects like the tiny house blog and Renzo Piano’s Diogene, Gary isn’t doing this to make money, but to help. “I didn’t do this as a business, I don’t want a business. I want to inspire other people.”

Pickering makes DVD’s to show people how to make these shelters for themselves, and he hopes that people with the means to produce these shelters will do so, and provide them to homeless people on some kind of credit that will allow them to pay the shelters off over time so that people can feel a sense of ownership and pride for them. It might not be The Four Seasons, but when the wind is whipping cold and the snow is falling, these survival pods could save thousands of lives … and, since I know Jo wants me to tie this in to zombies, somehow, I’d like to think a flesh-eating Zombie would run past one of these pods without even thinking twice about the tasty morsel dwelling within it.

Either way, people need shelter now, and the world would be a better place with more people like Gary Pickering (and Max Wallack, who, at age 12, built a very nice homeless shelter out of trash). You can find out more about Gary and his survival pods/homeless shelters in the video, below.

Sources | Photos: KSL Utah, via Huffington Post.

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Author: Walt Nekrosius

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  7. why not just 3 sheets of plywood or cheaper waferboard to make a triangle side by side and a 4th sheet to create the end pieces? Some spray on undercoating tar to weatherproof the outside. Styrofoam sheets on the inside to insulate. 2×4 studs where the edges meet, (4×12.50)+(4×16)+(6×3)+25=waferboard,styrofoam,studs, waterproof spray or husky 6 mil 10×25 plastic sheet glued on,= $157.00 Hardware extra (screws, hinges, wheels if needed, screening, plastic glazing for some light and viewing purpose, etc. If the styrofoam is sufficient for waterproofing, then use on outside and save on cost of tar spray/ plastic wrap. Maybe styro in side on bottom piece.

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