If you have a warm home, food in the pantry, money in the savings account, a car in the driveway, and feel pretty comfortable with your life, it can be easy to take what you have for granted. You’ve probably gone to college, landed a decent job, and made some pretty smart money moves. Or at the very least, you have a job, you’re working hard, and you’re able to provide for your own basic needs. But if you take some time to speak to people who don’t have what you do – who may be homeless, sleeping in a car, or worse, sleeping on the street – you’ll find that many of them lived a life like yours at one point.
What’s striking about these conversations is learning just how quickly things went wrong for them. I can recall a conversation I personally had with a woman who was homeless for three years. She had a good job, retired, was able to collect on social security, but then a series of tragedies struck that rendered her homeless and unable to get into any kind of housing for years.
The real cause of homelessness
That story is not especially unique. If you take the time to speak to individuals existing in unhoused conditions, you realize that the characterization of homeless people as drug addicts, people with mental health issues, or both, is a pretty gross oversimplification of the issue. The data bears this out as well.
According to The National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty, insufficient income and lack of affordable housing are the leading causes of homelessness in the United States. In 2012, there were 5.8 million affordable housing units, but 10 million individuals classified by the US Department of Housing and Urban Development as “extermely low income” or ELI. The availability of affordable housing is simply outweighed by the need. 
This ultimately makes eliminating homelessness a near-to-impossible task. Regional conditions, like the availability of employment and affordable housing, can make it so there’s simply no place for a homeless person to transition into living. But we can make life on the streets marginally safer and more comfortable in the meantime. And that’s what Geoffrey De Reynal, an engineer from France, sought to do with a special, portable shelter unit he calls Iglou.