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New design keeps street sleepers warm

October 06 2011
 Detroit design student comes up with a coat-bag for sub-zero nights


An American design student is hoping that her new invention can help the homeless to get through even the coldest winters. Veronika Scott, 22, who is a student at the College for Creative Studies in Detroit, Michigan, has created a coat for homeless people that turns into a sleeping bag - capable of withstanding sub-zero temperatures.

The inspiration for Scott’s coat design came from the city of Detroit itself, which has seen its homeless population shoot up to over 30,000 people since the economic downturn.

“What I found, working in shelters and getting to know homeless people, is that pride is one of their biggest needs,” she told the San Francisco Chronicle. “Whether or not they can get into a shelter, they want to be able to take care of themselves.”

The key in taking care of yourself - especially in Detroit, where temperatures can drop to -20° C in the winter - is keeping warm. Using an innovative design that combines synthetic quilting with industrial materials used in building insulation and envelopes, Scott claims that wearers can spend a night in the snow and not feel the cold.

“I didn’t mean for this coat to make it seem like it’s OK to sleep outside, but our shelters are just so full,” Scott said. “And this is something that can help people in the meantime. It’s a really basic survival thing.”

A year after making the original prototype, Scott intends to start mass-producing the coat/bags for a nationwide market. She wants to sell the products to non-homeless people for profit, and use the money to be able to give them to rough sleepers for free.

The early models are already going down a storm amongst Detroit’s homeless community, to whom Scott has been donating early models.

Rough sleeper Vincent Henry, 51, said: “Looks good. It gets really cold around here, so this would really help. It’d be OK as long as it doesn’t get ripped off.”

To read more about Veronika’s design and her wider homeless campaign in Detroit, you can follow her blog at