Homeless tents on set up on 16th Street in downtown San Diego. Photo by Chris StoneThe Lucky Duck and Aqualia International foundations announced Wednesday they will distribute 2,000 EMPWR coats, which can transform into sleeping bags that provide protection and warmth from the elements to homeless San Diegans.

“As winter approaches, these coats immediately benefit those experiencing homelessness by providing warmth and protection from the elements. But these coats and sleeping bags are no substitute for real shelter,” said Dan Shea, Lucky Duck board member.

“As a community, we must do more. Specifically, we call on our political leaders to open empty or underutilized government buildings for shelter, permanent supportive housing, and employment opportunities for those experiencing homelessness. In the meantime, the least we can do is partially alleviate the suffering of homelessness with these coats,” Shea said.

The coats will be distributed to San Diego County’s unsheltered homeless population through the nonprofit organizations’ food and water initiative, which has provided more than 320,000 meals since mid-May of this year.

The LDF and Aqualia food and water program serves 1,000 homeless people each day.

The weather-resistant coats are made by Empowerment Plan, a social enterprise nonprofit based in Detroit that hires homeless parents to do the manufacturing while providing them with case management and other support services. The coats fold out into a sleeping bag, can be worn as a shoulder bag and are made from recycled and donated materials.

According to the 2020 Point-in-Time Count conducted by the Regional Task Force on the Homeless, on any given day, nearly 4,000 people are homeless in San Diego County. Along with the commitment to provide 2,000 coats, the Regional Task Force on the Homeless and the Alliance Healthcare Foundation are providing another 200 coats.

The two foundations, along with the Regional Task Force on the Homeless and Alliance Healthcare Foundation ask other organizations, businesses and individuals to fill the gap by providing coats for every person experiencing homelessness throughout San Diego County.

To support this initiative and to sponsor a coat, visit: https://secure.givelively.org/donate/lucky-duck-foundation/provide-empwr- transformative-coats-to-all-unsheltered-san-diegans.

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