A Seattle startup hopes to fight homelessness in the community by building tiny houses that provide shelter and access to telemedicine resources.

City Pods founder Keenan O’Leary initially planned for his company to offer an affordable alternative to hostels. When COVID started, the business threatened to fail. After seeing the effects of the pandemic in his hometown and knowing someone personally who experienced it, O’Leary realized that his capsules could have another purpose.

Each unit was to be placed in an unused space with access to heating, cooling, and plumbing, but O’Leary and designer James Lee changed the design to better serve the homeless population.

Each pod is equipped with a sturdy aluminum frame and uses PVC plastic sheets that are easy to clean, bacteria-resistant and protected against graffiti. If a panel is damaged, it can be easily replaced, according to Geek Wire.

The Exhibition Hall at the Seattle Center was converted into temporary men’s accommodation on April 6, 2020 in Seattle, Washington. A start-up, City Pods, is hoping to create individual units of tablets that will provide access to telemedicine resources.
Karen Ducey / Getty

There are also Amazon Fire tablets in each pod giving residents access to telehealth services such as mental health experts or substance abuse treatment to eradicate some of the root causes of homelessness.

City Pods showed members of the Seattle community its prototypes and said they plan to refine the units and land some orders. The capsules will be built in Washington state and cost about $ 12,000 for a 64 square foot unit.

“We have to try every innovative idea and invest in what works,” said Shkëlqim Kelmendi, Executive Director of Housing Connector, in a Geek Wire interview. The Seattle-based nonprofit connects private home owners with those in need of housing most, according to its website.

Erica Barnett, a Seattle-based political reporter who, according to her LinkedIn page, covers local politics and politics, transportation, and urban planning and development, criticized the startup Twitter.

She shared the article from Geek Wire, writing, “Private capital forever reinvents things that already exist but worse (Tiny House Villages, but put them in warehouses!)” She added to the concept of having unprotected people in warehouses to accommodate is not a new idea and that people often find it difficult to make use of meaningful services if they are not personal.

According to the Seattle Mayor’s Office, the 2020 point-in-time census for Seattle, King County, 11,751 people were homeless in one night in January. About 53 percent of the people were protected and 47 percent were not protected. That is 5 percent more than in the previous year.