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Scottish Charity Register No. SC043760

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May 24 2009
Homeless Utility Vehicle is trialled in Ann Arbor, Michigan A personal shelter in the form of a vehicle that can be used by rough sleepers, is being profiled in America. The manual four-wheeler, known as the Homeless Utility Vehicle (HUV), has already been trialled and displayed around Ann Arbor, Michigan - a city recognised for its high level of homelessness. Its creator, design student Stephen Mills, said he hoped with sponsorship, the vehicle could be profiled in New York too. "The HUV project is still very much in the developmental stage, as my new focus is on establishing relationships with the shelters in New York City," he said. "In addition to forging developmental relationships with non-profit organisations, shelters and philanthropic venues, a secondary focus has been on fundraising, with the direct intent of starting large-scale production of HUVs." Mills added: "I believe that a commercial partnership will only serve to make mass production and outreach more attainable. Production costs are estimated at $500 (£338) per vehicle if mass-produced by a construction company. However, the vehicle would cost a bit more, maybe twice as much, if just one or two were made by a private contractor." The automotive design is made out of several different industrial grade materials such as plywood, steel and PVC-based fibrous products. They are heat-sensitive, enabling the inside of the vehicle to be warmed by the occupant's body, while its plastic roof prevents wind from entering the enclosed structure when zipped shut. Mr Mills, who grew up in Concord, Massachusetts, came up with the idea when he was completing his thesis about integrative design at the University of Michigan. "When selecting a thesis project I opted for a fresh perspective and pursued research on philanthropic art forms," he said. "After a seemingly extensive search, I uncovered the work of Krzysztof Wodiczko, who had crafted a device resembling a vehicle in the late '80s, which served to address social inequalities in housing." A 2008 report on homelessness by the New York Times revealed that the number of "chronically homeless" people living on the nation's streets and in shelters dropped by about 30 per cent - from 175,914 to 123,883 - between 2005 and 2007.