A Seattle ‘Tent City’ offers relief for homeless families, but at what cost?

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Sixty-five homeless people call the parking lot behind the Seattle Pacific University Bookstore home. Unlike most homeless camps that pop up throughout America, this camp was specifically created by the Seattle Pacific University governing board. Seattle has one of the nation’s largest homelessness problems, and in at attempt to combat this, the city has allowed for 11 camps to become permanent fixtures.

These camps have government protection, and each citizen is given certain rights and rules to living in the camp. Failure to comply with rules, such as sobriety and participating in volunteer security shifts, can lead to banishment by camp leaders.

While some are applauding Seattle for their innovative idea to combat the city’s homelessness problem, others worry that this will be seen as a permanent solution, as opposed to securing cheaper housing for those in need. Maria Foscarinis, the executive director for the National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty notes that “the encampments are there because of the failure to create affordable, decent housing” and that she “fear[s] that they will be seen as the solution”.