Tent Cities in the US

Has anyone ever lived in one, or know about them? And if you are outside the US, do you have them?

I drive by two that I know of frequently. They can’t be that rare. Though, I think most people aren’t aware of them. They’d probably get removed if many people were.

I’ve spent 25% of my adult life traveling, and thought I’d heard of everything, but I guess these are becoming bigger and bigger… Speaking of having them removed, Cornell West and Tavis Smiley went to one in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and someone commented that shortly after, problems occurred.

Since the OP is asking about personal experiences, let’s move this to IMHO.

General Questions Moderator

A local camp in which a number of homeless sheltered has been deserted. It was located under a bridge across the Kansas river, and when they started too big of a fire it got away from them and damaged the supports under the bridge. It’s going to take a lot of repair work.

These folks weren’t all that far from the Rescue Mission, but the mission has behavior rules, and folks can’t get messed up there.

One that might surprise some people:

The Bonus Expeditionary Forces camp on Anacostia Flats, Washington, DC.

There is one on the river by a local homeless shelter, founded by people who were kicked out of the shelter. The police are aware of it, but let it be as long as there is no violence there.

Seattle has a couple; at least one is pretty large. Was there on a business trip in September and happened to pass by it - tons of small pup tents under a large overpass network.

I’ve heard on a radio show (I forget which one, so this is admittedly a poor “cite”) that Seattle’s tent cities exploded in size because Amazon’s workforce caused a housing cost inflation that priced many middle-class people out of the area. They seemed to say that even a lot of Amazon’s workers live in the tent city - basically anyone who moved into the area for work but found they couldn’t afford rent.

Pretty abnormal for even those who work full-time being homeless… In the US alone it’s at least a million people, and a majority work. Big business circumvents laws by giving no hourly wage, instead a “salary” or the usual “Just give us 90% of what you make and become an independent contractor so we have no liability!”

There is also an issue in homeless shelters with number of beds. It’s not just substance abuse. Our local triage shelter has 28 beds, our bridge housing has 36, There are roughly 20 supportive housing beds and another 10 ‘semi-permanent’ beds, but we have 150 homeless in town. Since we have a decent number of services, we tend to attract homeless from other communities and they often outpace our ability to house them. Tent villages pop up to deal with those overflow issues. The triage shelter opens at 8 for evening beds and the first 28 get one, if you’re after that in line, then you’re out of luck. Tent cities provide other options rather than ‘under a bridge’ for the homeless. Sure, in the nice weather, there are people that are high or drunk and won’t be admitted to triage, but there are plenty of people that want shelter and are clean, but can’t get a bed.

Portland is another city where the working poor are sometimes forced to rough it. Along the Springwater Trail on the east side are quite a few “homeless” camps.

But the tents pop up in a lot of places. If there’s a patch of public grass off out of the way somewhere, tents are going to pop up. I’ve seen them inside the “loop” of interchange ramps by freeways. I have no idea how the people living there get across the highways and ramps safely.

Hell, I’ve seen them in the spot between the highways and the underpass when you head for 84 off of I5. Not at all a safe (or quiet!) place to stay. But with the way they’re getting shuffled around town anymore it’s no surprise.

There’s a bit of a blind on ramp interchange in Everett from Hwy 2 to I-5 that I’ve almost hit people sprinting across the freeway at the wee dark hours of the morning. Nearly any place that you can create a cave within the blackberries along I-5 will have a camp.

Seattle has many, many housing and homelessness issues right now. There are many tent cities. Everyone knows about them. They’re unmissable.

In CA there are large populations of homeless in many urban areas due to housing shortages and a dearth of affordable housing. The nice climate is also a draw, as well as availability (generally) of services to aid people.

However, I would not say they are “Tent Cities”, nor are they tucked away out of view in a lot of cases. On my way into SF there have been sizable camps right along the roadways or on the sidewalks in Oakland. In San Jose the camps have been located under freeway interchanges and in city parks. Follow 6th Street northwest from S Central Ave in Los Angeles to see apocalyptic conditions right on the sidewalks.

It is a disgrace and a failure of our nation that this situation exists, but answers aren’t easy. I have heard of some places (I think either in Portland or Seattle?) where they have tried to provide space for homeless and their tents/belongings/pets on unoccupied lots, where the city can provide some basic services like law enforcement, clean water, trash collection, porta-potties, an address, etc. to help those who want help to get out of this horrendous situation. Not sure how well those are working, tho.

In my area they are talking about building tiny houses for the homeless, but the numbers are laughable to me - like building a couple dozen of these will make a dent in the areas homeless population of a couple thousand.

Fining landowners out of existence and running them off public land is standard procedure some places. That is, if they fail to hide their homelessness enough.

Homeless shelters have rules, and not following them means you are out. Yes, you have to be out of them at a certain time and back in by a certain time. Yes, you have to stay clean and sober. Yes, you have to respect the rights of other “guests” and not steal from or treat them disrespectfully in any way.

Most of the people in homeless shelters are not bad people, jut good people in a bad situation. But some are really unable to follow the rules, and the end up out in the street, with no one to take them in and no where to go.