By combining transportation, storage, and lodging into a single pedal-powered unit, a Dutch designer's Housetrike may be a possible solution for the homeless, the nomadic, or maybe even the touring cyclist.
The prototype of the Woonfiets (living bike, or Housetrike) was designed and built by Bas Sprakel, a way of solving some of the pressing problems for people living on the streets, by providing a secure place to store their belongings, while also expanding to become a safe shelter at night. The "shelter in a cart" concept isn't new, but Sprakel's idea is a novel way of providing both transportation and lodging.
The Housetrike is built onto a cargo bike frame, offering a lockable storage compartment (500 cubic liters) for securing items during the day, which can then be quickly ("under one minute") opened up into bivy-sized sleeping quarters. The sleeping space keeps the user up off of the ground and out of the weather, has two portholes for windows and ventilation, and can be locked from the inside for a secure tiny home. We covered a similar tiny homes for the homeless idea back in May, but those tiny houses are also more like the "shelter in a cart" idea than the truly portable Housetrike.
According to Sprakel's Housetrike site, having a secure and covered storage area on the bike helps keep personal items out of view, as well as avoiding the outward appearance of being homeless (as compared with using something like a shopping cart, which has a stigma attached to it). In addition to having a safe place to keep their belongings, the cargo bike itself could potentially be used to make a living during the day (although it seems to me that to empty the bike of personal belongings to carry cargo would require another safe storage solution).
"In my opinion most problems are best solved when becoming totally responsible and thus being the solution to one's own problems... from the start preferably. Help can therefore only be effective if it helps the homeless to help themselves. So I started looking more in that direction and it led me gradually to the idea of this multifunctional bikecamper." - Sprakel
The current prototype is built from plywood, which adds considerably to the weight of the trike, but the final design calls for a body made from plastic, which would lighten the load considerably, while also render it waterproofed.
Sprakel estimates the Housetrike could be built for around $1500, which might seem quite low, except that the money would probably have to be underwritten or donated, as there aren't a lot of homeless with $1500 in their pockets.
At this point, I usually refer people to a crowdfunding campaign site or a sales website, but the good news (if posts about Kickstarter and Indiegogo projects just annoy you) and the bad news (if you wanted to pick up one of these for yourself) is one and the same. There is only the Housetrike website, with no flashy sales pitch or Buy Now buttons. However, if you are interested in funding this venture, or communicating with Sprakel, you can do so via the Contact page on the site.
[H/T to FastCo.Exist]