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#175936 - 03/21/13 12:06 PM Homeless campsites
balzaccom Online   content

Registered: 04/06/09
Posts: 1739
Loc: Napa, CA
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?

Edited by balzaccom (03/21/13 12:10 PM)

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#175954 - 03/21/13 07:05 PM Re: Homeless campsites [Re: balzaccom]
billstephenson Offline

Registered: 02/07/07
Posts: 3905
Loc: Ozark Mountains in SW Missouri
It's tough to think we have to resort to tent cities to house those in need, but I am sure that having some of the same gear we use for backpacking would benefit some of the homeless if they had a place where they could set it up legally.

It does bring back visions of the government camp the Joad's stayed at in the "Grapes of Wrath". They were pretty darn happy to be there.

"You want to go where?"

#175955 - 03/21/13 08:21 PM Re: Homeless campsites [Re: balzaccom]
PerryMK Offline

Registered: 01/18/02
Posts: 1162
Loc: Florida panhandle
I'm hardly an expert in the field, but I'll offer my observations and experiences.

Originally Posted By balzaccom
what are the criteria for a good urban campsite?
Access to facilities such as water, power, and public transit. Also, inconspicuous.

Originally Posted By balzaccom
And how would that be different from a good campsite in the wilderness?
Mainly the power and public transit access I suppose. These first two answers are based on the premise that not all homeless are jobless and that many have cell phones.

Originally Posted By balzaccom
Do social services networks use this kind of matrix to work with the homeless?
Generally speaking I believe the answer is no. Most social services have as their objective getting people into stable living situations. A few recognize that some people simply cannot adapt to society for whatever reason and so try to provide them some minimal shelter and services. They might also provide sleeping bags and other gear on occsaion but genreally prefer not to be seen as promoting homelessness.

Originally Posted By balzaccom
Are there elements of backpacking equipment or technique that could improve the situation?
Depends what you mean by improve. A sleeping bag might keep a person warmer and that is an improvement over colder. A tent in an urban area might get a person noticed and "moved along", which might not be an improvement.

It's a complicated situation and one for which I feel there aren't any general, correct solutions. I don't think you meant to suggest there would be.

I think its too easy for something said on an internet forum to sound offensive and that is certainly not my intent. You asked a question and I hope I gave frank, polite, and maybe something-to-think-about answers.

To be safe, I'll stop now.

#175975 - 03/22/13 09:21 PM Re: Homeless campsites [Re: PerryMK]
Gershon Offline

Registered: 07/08/11
Posts: 1109
Loc: Colorado
Most homeless people consider sleeping under a bridge to be the most dangerous place to stay.

Some homeless people wear their sleeping bags with many layers of clothes. This makes them less recognizable.

Usually, there are three levels of camps. One level doesn't allow any alcohol or drugs. Another level is all about drugs. Then there is the level in between that does not care as long as you behave.

The homeless are becoming harder to spot because they can get laundramat vouchers.

Seriously, I'd rather meet a homeless person in the out of way places in our city than a cop. There is a lot more to fear from a cop.


#175993 - 03/24/13 05:50 PM Re: Homeless campsites [Re: balzaccom]
Jimshaw Offline

Registered: 10/22/03
Posts: 3938
Loc: Bend, Oregon
Pray maybe the International redcross or Russia or Albania or maybe Venezuela will put forth the humanitarian effort to airlift food to the needy in America.
Jim cool
These are my own opinions based on wisdom earned through many wrong decisions. Your mileage may vary.


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