The reality is tent cities are here to stay. They will grow as homelessness increases and will (and already are) becoming more manageable/reasonable as those who unofficially lead such camps work with local authorities to keep things as orderly and peaceful as possible.
The fact remains, people are displace, 61% of them single males. Not all of them (by any means) are dealing with mental health or addiction issues, which is often assumed. I live in such a tent city, and observe the tremendous amount of hard work that goes into “urban camping” on a day in and day out basis. What is missing are the view, ready access to bathrooms, fresh water or electrical hookups you might enjoy at a camp site up and down the coast.
At our particular camp, under the Nimitz freeway, the dirt has been pulverized to resemble the chalky lunar surface. The noise overhead is deafening – but if it ever rains again, the water will never touch us.
The fact is we are going to sleep somewhere. best we do so in protective tents where we will not get ill and run up hospitalization bills. There is also a possible future for us. It is not exactly like being “homeless” completely anymore. We live in community. I can sit here in Starbucks and write this because my stuff is safely watched by he rest of the camp that is “home.”
In turn, I use my gifts where I can. I am a Webby nominated Internet Producer and former journalist (I was once even the managing editor of Northern California’s oldest living newspaper: The Placer Herald)
*** This is in prototype for a new publication called Azotus Oakland Homeless Chronicle (http://azotusohc.wordpress.com) on Oakland Homelessness that will have many writers and cover Homeless issues in Oakland. It is related to the changing mission of Azotus Works.