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Origami-Style Cardboard Tents for Homeless in Brussels


One of the cardboard tents, known as the ORIG-AMI project, outside a Brussels train station on Friday. Material tents are banned on the city streets. Credit Nicolas Maeterlinck/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

With material tents forbidden on the streets of Brussels, homeless people in the Belgian capital are often left without a safe place to sleep. But one entrepreneur seems to have found a way around the rule: origami-style cardboard tents.

The tents can be folded and carried on someone’s back, and are big enough to house two people. The hope is that they can last for a couple of weeks before needing to be replaced, said Xavier Van den Stappen, the entrepreneur behind the ORIG-AMI project.

“Cardboards are light, they keep the heat, and if they don’t get wet, they are pretty resistant,” Mr. Van den Stappen said by telephone on Saturday. With the help of a local charity, he handed out 20 tents at a Brussels train station on Friday.

The Brussels area had more than 2,600 homeless people in early 2017, according to La Strada, which monitors homelessness in city. But most of the shelters there are overcrowded by wintertime, said Olivier Vanden Avont, the president of L’Appel du Coeur, the group that helped distribute the tents, as well as day-to-day essentials: a blanket, underwear, a T-shirt and a toilet kit.

“If the cardboard tents can last for a month, this will be a victory already,” Mr. Vanden Avont said, adding that homeless people feared the cold more than anything else. Temperatures in Brussels have ranged from 30 degrees to 50 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 1 to 10 Celsius) in December.

Mr. Van den Stappen said he first thought about the cardboard tents in early 2017, when he was discussing the dangers of the cold with a homeless man who was using cardboard in the streets of Brussels.

Source: NYT > World

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