Monday, May 28, 2007

Will clearing out Gainesville's Tent City
solve the problem or make things worse?

As Gainesville officials ponder options for moving homeless residents out of "Tent City," many warn that solving the problem will not be as simple as forcing them to leave.

Homeless advocates say that clamping down on homeless camps likely will result simply in the homeless being shifted from place to place without actually reducing their numbers. And, with between 80 and 150 people living in Tent City -- a wooded area south of downtown -- some say it will be nearly impossible to find resources to serve all those who would be displaced if the camps near downtown were closed.

Philip Mangano, executive director of the federal Interagency Office on Homelessness, has a interesting comment:

"The challenge for cities around our country has been to capture the [sense of] community and the camaraderie that often occurs in a tent city, that self-organizing principle that takes place. We need to ensure that we keep a good grip on ... the effectiveness of organizing that the homeless people themselves have done, but to then transfer that to housing that provides security they need."
Read the Gainesville Sun article here. And get a glimpse of the sense of community in Tent City in an earlier Sun article here.


At 7:37 PM, Blogger Michaelann Bewsee said...

I wonder if Mangano really recognizes the strengths that homeless people can bring to solving their own situation collectively. To create those strengths in a housed situation requires a high level of autonomy-- allowing homeless people themselves to shape the social structures within whiv=ch they can strive. Does he mean it, or does it just sound good?

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