Cities Prop Up Homeless Camps

Squeezed shelters, recession prompt local government tolerance
By Matt Cantor,  Newser User
Posted Aug 11, 2009 11:19 AM CDT
Judy McGill closes her tent in an area where a camp has sprung up under a bridge in Providence, RI, Friday, Aug. 7, 2009.   (AP Photo/Eric J. Shelton)
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(Newser) – With room tight in homeless shelters, municipalities across the US are allowing tent cities to stand—after years spent breaking up homeless clusters, the Wall Street Journal reports. In some areas, the encampments are even supplied with basic services like portable toilets and medical care. “There is no place to put them,” says a Nashville homeless official of the dwellers, especially when cities are trying to cut budgets.

The recession may have helped make local governments “less inclined to crack down quite as hard on people,” says a sociologist, leading to tent cities from Florida to California to Washington state. But some nearby residents aren’t happy about tolerant policies, and are organizing campaigns to shut down the tent cities. The proximity of an encampment could “devalue my home" and "devalue my community,” says a Tampa man.