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Homeless campsites?

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Homeless campsites?
March 21, 2013 09:12AM
Some major construction projects in our area got us thinking about the homeless in our town. In a way, these folks are backpackers, too, albeit in an urban environment.

And so we started thinking about campsites: what are the criteria for a good urban campsite? And how would that be different from a good campsite in the wilderness?

The first difference would be shelter. Most of the homeless people in our area don’t have shelter—yeah, that’s why they call them homeless—so the first thing to look for is a roof over your head. That’s why highway underpasses and bridges seem to be so popular. Would that change if the homeless had effective tents? Interesting to consider.

And the next items on the agenda would be food and water. Backpackers usually carry their own food—but the urban homeless are going to be foraging. That means an ideal campsite will be not far from sources of food and water—whether those are official sources like food banks and the Salvation Army, or simply the back parking lot of the local grocery store.

If possible, you would also want access to a public restroom—although we don’t use those in the wilderness, and plenty of homeless people follow that same example in the urban environment.

And finally, you would think that all people still want a bit of privacy—so that would be another consideration for the urban backpacker/homeless person.

Do social services networks use this kind of matrix to work with the homeless?

Are there elements of backpacking equipment or technique that could improve the situation?



Balzaccom

follow our adventures, read our blog, or just to come hang out at our website: http://www.backpackthesierra.com/
Re: Homeless campsites?
April 13, 2013 11:07PM
My congrats to you for the tone of this post. It is so easy to think of the homeless as disposable.

I was moved by your consideration of what we do might help these people.

I'm reminded of the words of Father Greg Boyle, here in LA, from his Commencement address at Creighton U.:

"And you go from here to create a community of kinship, such that God might recognize it. You go from here to bend the world to grace. You imagine a circle of compassion. And, then you imagine nobody standing outside that circle. And, to that end, you walk to the edges of the circle and you walk with those on the margins. And, you stand with the poor and the powerless and the voice-less. You stand with the easily despised and the readily left out. You stand with those whose burdens are more than they can bear. You stand, in fact, with the demonized, so that the demonizing will stop. You stand with the disposable, so the day will come when we stop throwing people away. You seek, as you leave this place, a kind of compassion that can stand in awe at what the poor have to carry, rather than stand in judgment at how they carry it.

And, a great many people will look at you, standing at the margins and will accuse you of wasting your time."
avatar Re: Homeless campsites?
April 14, 2013 08:27AM
Backpacking tents are not of much help. They are designed to be lightweight, not tough. They just don't hold up to daily use.
avatar Re: Homeless campsites?
April 16, 2013 09:46PM
I think that the whole idea of a "camp" is flawed, as it immediately poses food, waste disposal,bathroom, & hygene issues right from the start. I have advocated (locally) for use of the shut-down military base housing to be used as sort of a quasi YMCA/homeless dormitory. The cafeteria & large scale facilities are already in place. Perhaps counseling could be introduced. When I spoke to some of the homeless about this idea, many of them stated that they did not want to "come in", thus they were in favor of the filthy campsites (and some of them set up large scale along the river & other large areas became a waste nightmare very soon after they were opened up) Something needs to be done, as the problem will not just "go away".



The body betrays and the weather conspires, hopefully, not on the same day.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 04/16/2013 09:49PM by Bee.
Re: Homeless campsites?
April 17, 2013 10:26AM
Bee, I've also thought that the approach you advocate has merit. Also making such things as less-used military bases or veteran's facilities available for veterans.

But it's important to understand that many have been traumatized by authorities and gov't, and have learned through hard experience that keeping off the radar screen, and a low profile is best. Many, many have significant mental illness.

It's a national tragedy.
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