The icons were designed by Emily Read and Chen Hsu in 2007. Their work is described as follows:
"To deliver vital information more effectively to the urban homeless— a decentralized population with little access to mobile technology—designers Emily Read and Chen Hsu revived the centuries-old language of the hobo code. The homeless can use this series of simple symbols to communicate with each other about safety, shelter, and free food by inscribing them with chalk on sidewalks, buildings, and other surfaces. The code, reproduced in each issue ofthe Pavement, a London-based magazine for the homeless, forms a common language that is both inconspicuous and highly directed. Read calls the language “a means of exposing the hidden potentials of the city and making these more accessible to the homeless” and “a new, informal avenue of communication,” one that also makes reference to the very roots of language and civilization."
It became clear in taking the photos and through speaking with various rough sleepers that the Homeless City Guide is not used. This isn't very surprising. However the icons bring to mind the symbols used in accommodation directories. Hence the project brings together these symbols and a picture of the accommodations "offered".
In all cases I have used accompanying text from local hotels to describe the area. All the accommodations are near five star hotels. This serves to provide a contrast between the image and the text.
The adds have appeared on various listing websites such as Gumtree, Craigs List and Where to Sleep. I have added the responses I received to the adverts under each of the postings.