“When I was looking at ways to help those experiencing homelessness, I wanted to do more than give somebody a meal for one day,” Jason Christensen says in his now-viral TikTok video that has over 2.3 million views.
“I wanted to give them a space that could be a real foundation and be a launch pad to help them break the cycle of homelessness.”
Christensen is the founder of Sleep Trailer, a company that aims to provide safety, security, and dignity to those in need. The Albany, Oregon resident is the son of a cabinet maker and home builder and says he loves to create innovative ways to solve complex problems.
The trailers were inspired by capsule hotels in Japan — but on wheels — and each unit is filled with eight individual lockable pods to provide emergency shelter to those in need. Christen’s ultimate goal is to provide “a bed for every head.”
What is a sleep trailer?
A Sleep Trailer is a compact, portable option for transitional housing that allows folks to have a safe, dignified space to sleep and house their belongings.
The company’s signature bright blue trailers were designed with the help of 20 TWENTY Sustainable Manufacturing, a design firm in Salem, Oregon.
Each 7.8-foot long pod within the trailer comes equipped with the following amenities:
- Air conditioning, heating, and dehumidifying
- Carbon monoxide and smoke detectors
- Large window and emergency exit
- Four vents for airflow
- Waterproof with a drain
- Pet-friendly accommodations
- Accessibility options and customizations
The trailers are available in single-level and double-decker options, and all pods are about four feet high, and four feet and eight inches wide.
The space can be used to sleep, store belongings, and simply have a space to call one’s own during a time of transition.
“The goal is not to stay here forever. It’s nice, and it’s safe, but we can do better than this,” Christensen shares in a promotional video on the Sleep Trailer website.
“We’re looking towards building more affordable housing, because that’s obviously the real answer to ending homelessness, but that takes a lot of resources and a lot of funding.”
The Sleep Trailers are in their pilot program at this time, but Christensen hopes to use them even beyond a transitional housing model; creating options for emergency and disaster relief, rehabilitation programs, safety for first responders like firefighters, and more.
“This is designed to be a place to come in, to stabilize, to get your mind right, and to understand and know that you’re worth it,” he says.
Viral on TikTok
Christensen posted his concept for his Sleep Trailer solution on TikTok on October 19, 2021 in a post that almost immediately grew to 400,000 views.
His comment sections were flooded with people praising the solution, requesting that he bring Sleep Trailers to their communities, and asking questions about the logistics of how these trailers function.
Since then, Christensen has created over 170 TikToks explaining (and refining and improving) the concept in more detail. He’s created videos explaining everything from cooling and heating in pods, the size of each pod, how to manage a Sleep Trailer, to how to reach the top pods, sponsorship opportunities, and even the problems with sobriety requirements for housing.
@sleeptrailerllc has reached more than 150,000 followers and 1.4 million likes on TikTok as Christensen continues to share about his initiative.
Why is this good news?
A 2020 report found that nearly 15,000 people were experiencing homelessness across the state of Oregon.
While large, systemic shifts in housing affordability, accessibility, and equality are necessary to truly solve this crisis, innovations like Christensen’s Sleep Trailers are vital to providing transitional support.
The portable nature of the Sleep Trailers allows them to meet people where they need support, providing a space for folks to truly rest while they access other necessary resources on their path to long-term stability.
“I thought, ‘if I was in that situation, for me it would come down to safety, security, and having my own space where I could stabilize and be able to lock my stuff up during the day and not worry about it getting stolen,’” Christensen shares on TikTok. “So I could take advantage of those next resources.”
Those “next resources,” Christen outlines, are services like healthcare, substance abuse services and rehabilitation, mental health services, employment, housing programs, and more.
By providing a home base for people in transitional times, the Sleep Trailer allows folks to get the support they need in every aspect of their lives.