For the last 10 months, 39-year-old Damian “Dean” Cummings has been living in a wooden box in Soho. Constructed for him by two documentary filmmakers as part of a project on homelessness, the 4' wide by 6'3" tall box, disguised as a dumpster, is insulated and weatherproof, and includes amenities like a hot plate and a phone charger. But over the weekend, cops confiscated his box and his belongings—though Cummings's benefactors got the box back temporarily, the NYPD re-confiscated it on Monday. Now, Cummings has nowhere to live.

Male models/artists Shane Duffy, 37 and Phil Sullivan, 28, created the box for Cummings in June 2016, in hopes of using it in a documentary film and charity calling attention to homelessness in the city. Sullivan got the idea for the project after he experienced a brief homeless stint five years ago. "I came to New York for a concert, to find out I'd been scammed in a sublet in Boston. I lost everything I owned," Sullivan told Gothamist. "I experienced a couple weeks of homelessness living all over NYC, on park benches, in gazebos."

Sullivan eventually got back on his feet and went on to compete on the popular TV show America's Next Top Model, but his experience on the streets had a profound effect on him. "It changed my perspective," he said. "For the first time, I realized: how do people survive out here?"

Duffy and Sullivan decided to use their social media platform to draw more attention to the city's burgeoning homeless problem, and founded the charity I Am Supported in 2015. The following year, they decided to spend four days on the streets, documenting their experience on film. That's where they met Cummings. "He helped us with blankets, food, how to navigate through streets. He told us the ins and outs, like don't go to shelters," Duffy said. "He felt they were really dangerous. His personal security was threatened there, and all his personal belongings. He felt his safety was in jeopardy."

So Duffy and Sullivan set out to create Cummings his box, filming his experience there as part of a bigger project on homelessness:

For the most part, Cummings remained undisturbed, but that changed when the media began reporting on Duffy and Sullivan's project. On Saturday, officers from the 1st Precinct removed the box and issued Duffy a summons. Though the NYPD returned the box, Duffy and Sullivan say they confiscated it again on Monday. "Yesterday, as we were filming, cops came by—three cop cars—and said, 'We're going to confiscate this," Duffy said. "They wouldn't give us a reason."

Duffy says that though he and Sullivan offered to move the box to a trailer they had parked next to their shoot, the NYPD wouldn't budge. "They said 'we're seizing this.' There was no opportunity for us to remedy the situation. They had a truck ready to load the box up."

Duffy claims an attorney with the NYPD told the duo they had to seize the box as evidence, citing them for "storing a movable container on a sidewalk." "We told her we're not storing anything, we were using it as prop," Duffy said. She said, "Well, you're going to have to talk about that in court."

Duffy and Sullivan will have to present their case at a summons hearing on June 21st, but for now, Cummings needs a new home. Though Duffy and Sullivan were able to put him up in a hotel over the weekend, they're struggling to find him short-term accommodations. "We tried to get him into a hotel last night. Dean doesn't have any ID so that was a no go," Sullivan, who invited Cummings to stay with him last night, said. "I even tried to put [the room] in my name. They wouldn't let me." They've started a GoFundMe site in hopes of raising enough cash to get Cummings an ID and a home.

Duffy hopes calling attention to their project, and Cummings's plight, will make the city come up with alternative ways to ameliorate the homelessness crisis. "We came up literally thinking outside the box, by building the box," Duffy said. "One person can live in dignity and start working, can keep his stuff safely secure. This could potentially be, not a solution but temporary fix for that. I'd like to challenge the city to come to speak to us about why they took it away and how they'll react."

When contacted, the Mayor's office referred Gothamist to the NYPD. The NYPD told us in a statement: "On April 8, 2017 the dumpster was removed to the 1st Precinct and vouchered. The owners of the property went to the 1st Precinct and the property was released to them. On April 10, 2017 after the dumpster was brought back to Wooster Street the dumpster was removed to the 1st Precinct and the owner was issued a criminal court summons."