‘Backpack Bed’ Designed To Help Homeless

The Backpack Bed. (Credit: Bernie Tafoya/WBBM Newsradio)

The Backpack Bed. (Credit: Bernie Tafoya/WBBM Newsradio)

CHICAGO (CBS) — Homeless people in Chicago have been getting a little sample this week of a product that’s designed to make their life a little more comfortable on the street.

It’s called a Backpack Bed. It’s a sleeping bag-type product that rolls up into a backpack, but it has special features designed to keep the homeless warm, dry and protected from the elements.

Backpack Beds are the brainchild of Australian Tony Clark and his wife to help the homeless–or “rough sleepers” as they’re called in Australia.

The Backpack Bed. (Credit: Bernie Tafoya/WBBM Newsradio)

The Backpack Bed. (Credit: Bernie Tafoya/WBBM Newsradio)

He says that organizations that distribute the Backpack Beds note that the health of homeless who use them “improves rapidly,” mainly because they can sleep longer with less stress.

A Backpack Bed is an insulated, cocoon-type sleeping bag that rolls up into a backpack. It has netting to ward off summer bugs and has pockets for personal items.

Ed Shurna of the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless calls it a “lifesaver” for people who are turned away from a shelter or who won’t go into a shelter.

Bill Cavanaugh usually tries to sleep in a shelter, but he appreciated getting a backpack bed at Catholic Charities. He proclaimed it, “not bad”.

Victor Campos also received a Backpack Bed yesterday and said, “it’s great.”

Backpack Bed creator Tony Clark says, “Social workers that are dealing with the homeless can see the massive improvements very rapidly with their health–psychological.”

He says improving the self-esteem and dignity of the homeless “is the first step to getting homeless back on their feet in the community.”

The unfortunate side to the story is a report that a couple of homeless actually left their backpack beds where they’d been staying under a north side viaduct this week and the city reportedly disposed of them when cleaning the area.

Clark says Backpack Beds cost $68 each to produce.

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