A new report released on March 10 from the National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty (NLCHP) documents the increase of “tent cities,” a term describing informal encampments of people who are homeless. The report, entitled Welcome Home: The Rise of Tent Cities in the United States, provides in-depth case studies of four tent cities located in Providence, RI, Lakewood, NJ, St. Petersburg, FL, and New Orleans, LA.
NLCHP worked with the International Human Rights Clinic at Yale Law School to survey the conditions of tent cities across the country. The researchers reviewed news articles published between 2008 and 2013 to identify tent encampments for further study. In total, 100 tent communities in 46 states and the District of Columbia were identified.
The authors visited four encampments, and conducted interviews with current and former tent camp residents, service providers, lawyers, and community advocates. Each case study covers the origins of the tent city, governmental responses to the encampment, and possible strategies to secure permanent housing for tent city residents.
According to the report, most tent cities have been threatened by eviction. The researchers stress the need to repeal municipal ordinances that criminalize homelessness, and provide safe, alternative permanent housing options to tent city residents rather than evicting residents by force.
The report can be accessed on the National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty webpage at: