There is quite a comment thread going on over at sacbee.com about this article on the tent city situation in Seattle. It’s off-topic already, of course. A lot of Loaves and Fishes bashing.
The tent cities around Seattle run on a system of self-governance, where residents elect leadership councils and vote weekly on matters such as whether to require hand sanitizer in the kitchen tent and who should take charge of cleaning blankets. There is zero tolerance toward drug and alcohol use; profanity and spitting are discouraged. No more than 100 campers are allowed at each site. The encampments are managed by nonprofit organizations, and nearly all financial support comes through fundraising. Residents work security shifts, screening visitors for arrest warrants and patrolling the cramped aisles between tents.
Yowza, no spitting? What is this, Russia? This is some idea though. Kevin Johnson is on board, too.
Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson said last week that he is frustrated that a plan has not materialized. He said a tent city could provide a place for the homeless to transition into permanent housing and “integrate back into mainstream society.”
Well, I wouldn’t go that far…From my experience, for every person who is a little down on their luck there are a few more that have made some really poor choices in their lives and continue to do so.
So, what’s the right call here? Apply spot fixes? Rely on the goodness of others to donate money to not-for-profit agencies? Allow the government to get involved and formalize things? I do worry that the easier you make it to live this way, the harder it is to figure out a way to become independent. I see a lot of guys under I-5 and the Garden Highway in the morning laughing and chatting it up over a camp fire. I always think, “Hey, I bet these guys aren’t upside down in their house, throwing money on a hot fire every month.”
Either way, it’s no picnic, I get that. What do you think?