You think you’re cold? Try being one of Detroit’s 18,000 homeless. Veronika Scott, a junior at the Center for Creative Studies, for one, isn’t about to shiver on the sidelines. To help her city’s chronically destitute, a quarter of whom are children, the 21-year-old designed a heated, waterproof jacket that turns into a sleeping bag at night. But the Elements S(urvival) coat, which geminated as a school project, is more than an instrument of warmth. By employing homeless people to produce the jacket, Scott hopes to create jobs, impart valuable skills, and restore dignity.

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Made from Tyvek, which is used in the construction industry as a thermal and moisture barrier for buildings, as well as heavy-duty insulation such as wool army blankets, the Elements S(urvival) coat has undergone countless design iterations based on input from Detroit’s homeless.

The coat is made from Tyvek, which provides a weather barrier for buildings, as well as heavy insulation such as army blankets.

But although Scott pumped in $2,000 of her own savings to create the prototypes, she had to enlist the help of expert manufacturer Carhatt to kick her full-fledged humanitarian mission into gear. Carhatt, which makes tough-as-nails work overalls, donated several industrial sewing machines, 300 yards of quilted nylon and sherpa lining, industrial cutters, pattern-making materials, and thread.

Scott also partnered with the Cass Community, a local homeless shelter that is providing room, board, and minimum wages for the people who are making the coats. Besides streamlining the coat-making process, Scott plans to finishing 25 coats by the end of February. In the long run, her goal is to make the patterns open source, so other shelters around the world can make their own.

+ The Empowerment Plan

[Via Good]