The past winter we worked closely with Part of the Solution (POTS); a community center in the Bronx, New York to protect their unsheltered members through freezing and sub-freezing nights on the streets. “Sheltersuit offers a tangible way for us to connect with our unsheltered friends on the street,” says Noelani, Head of Distribution at Sheltersuit USA, “But how do we get it to the people that need it?”
The past winter we worked closely with Part of the Solution (POTS) a community center in the Bronx, New York to protect their unsheltered members through freezing and sub-freezing nights on the streets.
We spent time talking with POTS team members Taina, Christopher, and Christina – looking to understand how Sheltersuits fit into their mission of providing their community with help and hope.
New York City witnessed an all-time high of people experiencing homelessness in February 2021, with 20,822 single adults sleeping in New York City shelters each night. It’s a staggering figure that still doesn’t account for the thousands more staying on the streets or in shelters run by other agencies. For those living on the streets, it was a particularly cold and snowy month; with one of the biggest snowstorms, the city had seen in five years.
“Sheltersuit offers a tangible way for us to connect with our unsheltered friends on the street.”– Noelani, Sheltersuit USA
“Sheltersuit offers a tangible way for us to connect with our unsheltered friends on the street,” says Noelani, Head of Distribution at Sheltersuit USA, “But how do we get it to the people that need it?”
After meeting Bas, in 2019, Noelani moved to New York from the Netherlands to set up Sheltersuit in the US. This past winter, she pulled off our first distribution pilot in NY with 5 different partners to keep 250 unsheltered individuals warm. Collecting feedback from both our distribution partners and our unsheltered friends, she is using these learnings to create a distribution strategy that scales our value across the USA, starting in Los Angeles this September.
“We help them realize it’s not just a hot meal we can provide… we want to hear their stories.”– Christopher Minaya, POTS
From community members and staff, we heard a common theme: that POTS is much more than a place for a hot meal. That amid the discomfort and the struggles, POTS is a constant place of comfort, respite, and support. And no matter how tough life might get on the street, the center is a place where people see you, know you, and care about you.
“Being able to provide these Sheltersuits to our community has been really incredible because it gives them a way to have a certain amount of safety in an environment where they feel they have to live because they don’t feel like they can go to the shelter.”– Christina Hanson, POTS
Entering any new landscape we are sensitive to observing and understanding how to best add value. Our experience in NL and across Europe has given us a huge advantage, but every country, city, and community varies wildly.
There will never be a single simple solution to the homeless crisis, this will take collaboration and many different innovative solutions. Most importantly it takes humanity and the courage to listen to the people that are enduring unsheltered homelessness.
This is why we rely so much on partners like POTS, and all of our other distribution partners, to keep our pulse on the issue.
“Things like Sheltersuit that are providing the opportunity for people to change their lives? I work for that every day.”– Mike Brady, Sheltersuit USA