TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (WTWO/WAWV) – A local organization with the help of some college students is helping provide homeless veterans with shelter.
Garri Knezevich is the founder of Sheltering Homeless on Wheels, or S.H.O.W. He said he created the organization because he wanted to find a simple way for homeless veterans to travel from point A to point B, while also being able to haul their belongings.
He came up with the idea of building a camper that can not only be slept in but can safely store someone’s belongings. The camper can be attached to a bicycle to go from site to site, and has pillars to become stationary.
“We have a lot of homeless that are sleeping in tents and the other organization I work with, loyal veterans battalion, provide tents. They can only have one a year. People were stealing their tents, tents were getting frozen to the ground, and their belongings were getting stolen. There was just no safe place. There was just no safe and secure way,” Knezevich said.
Engineering students at Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology have been designing the first prototype of the camper which was finished a few weeks ago.
“The standard size is big enough to fit a 6-and-a-half-foot person laying down. And it’s wide enough for the person to fit it and all of its belongings. The current person who’s using this is a veteran, he’s around 5 foot 9 and he can get almost a grocery cart of his belongings in there with him sleeping,” Knezevich said.
The camper has two windows, a carbon monoxide detector and two air vents. An attachment on the front of the camper allows it to be pulled with different-sized bicycles.
“We wanted the person not to feel claustrophobic and to feel homey inside so that’s the reason we put two windows in and for air to flow through during the summer months,” Knezevich said.
The person staying in the prototype has given feedback on the camper, and the camper will be sent back to Rose-Hulman in the coming weeks to make improvements.
Ideally, Knezevich said he hopes to have 10 manufactured by the end of this year. He said he hopes to partner with other local organizations in the area to help connect them with homeless veterans to get them a camper, free of charge.
“It makes the person feel safe and secure, it’s almost like a home. And that was the whole goal, to make sure that an individual has the potential,” Knezevich said.
After he receives the final prototype and starts manufacturing the campers, he said with other organizations, will hopefully be able to figure out a central location to keep the campers.
He is hopeful that one day, S.H.O.W will be able to help homeless veterans nationwide.