Using Tent Cities to Fill a Gap in Services

06/19/2015 02:43 pm ET | Updated Jun 19, 2016

Los Angeles Times reported transient encampments and car camping grew 85% countywide in the last two years. This week the Los Angeles City Council voted to make it easier for authorities to clean up homeless camps, but Seattle has found another solution by embracing tent communities.

With the lack of affordable housing continuing to be a crisis along with the growing amount of people who cannot find employment with a livable wage, tent encampments are increasing across America. There is no community, rural or urban, that is immune from homelessness and tent encampments. Directly and indirectly, tent cities effect you!


Over the last few years I have visited several tent communities. Most are just a group of people who have come together for social and survival needs. Occasionally, a tent encampment will grow, and if there is the right leadership, the group can evolve into well-organized community.

My first experience was when I visited Seattle's Nickelsville back in 2009, and being an old hippie at heart, I fell in love the self-governed tent community model. I have visited Nickelsville a few times over the years. Dignity Village in Portland is another wonderful community. In the feature film @home, the film makers follow me into Ann Arbor's "Camp Take Notice", but sadly the community no longer exists.

This video is of my visit to Tent City 3 in Seattle last year. Seattle is the one city that I am aware of that embraces tent communities and incorporates the model into their homeless services. Although tent encampments are not the best solution, when housing and shelter beds are not available, adding tent cities to the continuum is a smart move.

Mostly we only hear bad news about tent encampments. Check out this post from Seattle Pacific University hosting Tent City 3.