America’s Tent Cities for the Homeless – The Atlantic (25 pics)




Though the overall number of homeless people in the United States has been in a slow decline in recent years, homelessness has risen sharply in larger cities. More than 500,000 people were homeless in the United States at the end of last year, according to a report by the Department of Housing and Urban Development. Many who find themselves living on the streets find a level of community and security in homeless encampments—whether the tent cities are sanctioned or unofficial. Gathered here are images of some of these tent cities, from Seattle, Los Angeles, Washington, D.C., St. Louis, Las Cruces, and Honolulu. Though residents say they enjoy the stability of the camps, they still live in uncertainty, as many cities have clamped down in recent years, carrying out evictions and tearing down the tents.

Stacie McDonough, 51, poses for a portrait by her tent at a homeless motorhome and tent encampment n

Stacie McDonough, 51, poses for a portrait by her tent at a homeless motorhome and tent encampment near LAX airport in Los Angeles, California, on October 26, 2015. McDonough is an army veteran with a college degree who was recently made homeless. While Los Angeles is grappling with a massive homelessness problem, Mayor Eric Garcetti has proposed spending $100 million to combat the problem in the sprawling metropolis but stopped short of declaring a state of emergency.

A general view of the unsanctioned homeless tent encampment Nickelsville (lower left) in Seattle, Wa

A general view of the unsanctioned homeless tent encampment Nickelsville (lower left) in Seattle, Washington, on October 8, 2015.

Matt Hannahs, 32, with his son Devin, outside their tent by a wood fire in Nickelsville homeless ten

Matt Hannahs, 32, with his son Devin, outside their tent by a wood fire in Nickelsville homeless tent encampment in Seattle on October 13, 2015. “Devin doesn't view this as a negative thing, I mean being a little boy and resilient he looks at it as an adventure. Just meeting new people and seeing new things its basically like camping. I've always been really grateful that there is some place where you can come and go as you choose and there is safety in numbers. It's like a big family and we look out for each other,” Hannahs said.

In Washington, D.C., Owen Makel, 65, who has been homeless for nearly 14 years and has lived at this

In Washington, D.C., Owen Makel, 65, who has been homeless for nearly 14 years and has lived at this camp for four months, sits by his tent between the Watergate and Whitehurst Freeway on November 16, 2015. “You have to understand this: We people as homeless have lives, just like you all have lives. We don't want to be out on the street but we don't have an alternative. People have no other place to go,” Makel said. On November 20, 2015, the residents were evicted from the area, according to local reports.

Lovenia Evans, who is pregnant, smokes a cigarette by her tent between the Watergate and Whitehurst

Lovenia Evans, who is pregnant, smokes a cigarette by her tent between the Watergate and Whitehurst Freeway in Washington, D.C. on November 16, 2015. “This is my second week in this tent, it's better to be here than laying on the street or sidewalk. I'm pregnant and they would like to me to come off the street,” Evans said.

Clyde Burgit and his wife Helen, who had been at this camp for two weeks, sit on a mattress near the

Clyde Burgit and his wife Helen, who had been at this camp for two weeks, sit on a mattress near their tent by the Watergate and Whitehurst Freeway in Washington, D.C. on November 16, 2015. “Everybody looks out for everybody, this was great, and everybody gets along,” Clyde said.

Terry, a homeless man who only gave his first name, stands outside his tent at a large homeless enca

Terry, a homeless man who only gave his first name, stands outside his tent at a large homeless encampment on January 27, 2015, near downtown St. Louis. The city planned to tear down the camp down due to health and safety concerns, but Human Services director Eddie Roth says officials would work with those living in tents to help them find better alternatives.

Stephan Schleicher, 31, poses in front of his tent at SHARE/WHEEL Tent City 4 outside Seattle, Washi

Stephan Schleicher, 31, poses in front of his tent at SHARE/WHEEL Tent City 4 outside Seattle, Washington, on October 9, 2015. “There is a community here and a sense of people being held accountable to each other,” Schleicher said. SHARE and WHEEL describe themselves as self-organised, democratic organizations of homeless and formally homeless people that run several self-managed tent cities.

Tents are seen at SHARE/WHEEL Tent City 4 around 35 miles outside Seattle, Washington, on October 9,

Tents are seen at SHARE/WHEEL Tent City 4 around 35 miles outside Seattle, Washington, on October 9, 2015.

A Bible and ashtray filled with cigarettes at SHARE/WHEEL Tent City 4 outside Seattle, on October 9,

A Bible and ashtray filled with cigarettes at SHARE/WHEEL Tent City 4 outside Seattle, on October 9, 2015.

Buzz Chevara, 56, poses in front of his tent at SHARE/WHEEL Tent City 4 outside Seattle on October 9

Buzz Chevara, 56, poses in front of his tent at SHARE/WHEEL Tent City 4 outside Seattle on October 9, 2015. “The concept of tent city means community, safety, and a place to be where nobody is going to harass or hurt you in the middle of the night,” Chevara said.

Lohe Akau, a 55-year-old homeless construction worker, carries his bodyboard through a homeless enca

Lohe Akau, a 55-year-old homeless construction worker, carries his bodyboard through a homeless encampment in the Kakaako district of Honolulu, Hawaii, on August 24, 2015 . There are estimated 7,620 homeless people living on the streets in Hawaii.

Deja-Lynn Rombawa-Quarles, a 24-year-old woman who works part time at an elementary school as a grou

Deja-Lynn Rombawa-Quarles, a 24-year-old woman who works part time at an elementary school as a group leader, sits in her tent at a homeless encampment in the Kakaako district of Honolulu on August 26, 2015 . Rombawa-Quarles is one of a growing number of working poor in Honolulu who, through a combination of high housing costs, a dearth of affordable housing, and bad circumstances, wound up living on the street.

Clouds pass above Camp Hope in Las Cruces, New Mexico, on October 6, 2015. Camp Hope describe themse

Clouds pass above Camp Hope in Las Cruces, New Mexico, on October 6, 2015. Camp Hope describe themselves as “alternative transitional living project for the homeless.” Around 50 people live at the camp.

Daniel J. Wabsey, a 58-year-old war veteran, sits outside his tent at Camp Hope in Las Cruces, New M

Daniel J. Wabsey, a 58-year-old war veteran, sits outside his tent at Camp Hope in Las Cruces, New Mexico, on October 6, 2015. “I've been traveling for 35 or 38 years. Getting inside would take a while to get used to. I just want to be able to eat, sleep, and be safe. We all get along and understand in Camp Hope. We've all been there. With common sense you can survive out here,” Wabsey said.

Matt Mercer, a one-time resident of Camp Hope, poses among tents in Las Cruces, New Mexico, on Octob

Matt Mercer, a one-time resident of Camp Hope, poses among tents in Las Cruces, New Mexico, on October 6, 2015. “The most unique thing about the camp is the sense of the community,” said Mercer, a former tent city dweller who now volunteers at Camp Hope. “When you are in the shelter system you don't see community, people are all just in survival mode.”

Richey Luper, from Newport Beach, California, sits outside his tent at Camp Hope in Las Cruces on Oc

Richey Luper, from Newport Beach, California, sits outside his tent at Camp Hope in Las Cruces on October 7, 2015. “This is good …The tent city gives a sense of safety. No doubt about it,” Luper said.

Emma Savage, 6, opens a birthday card given to her by her dad Robert Rowe, 42, a day laborer who had

Emma Savage, 6, opens a birthday card given to her by her dad Robert Rowe, 42, a day laborer who had just returned from a 12-hour working day to SHARE/WHEEL Tent City 3 outside Seattle, Washington, on October 12, 2015.

Tents stand at SHARE/WHEEL Tent City 3 outside of Seattle on October 12, 2015.

Tents stand at SHARE/WHEEL Tent City 3 outside of Seattle on October 12, 2015.

Lantz Rowland, 59, poses in front of his tent at SHARE/WHEEL Tent City 3 near Seattle on October 8,

Lantz Rowland, 59, poses in front of his tent at SHARE/WHEEL Tent City 3 near Seattle on October 8, 2015. “Homeless people aren't drunken bums with needles shoved in their arms slobbering in a corner. We got people working graveyard shifts, we got kids here, we got families. People go to work not having to carry their stuff on their backs like they do in the indoor shelter system. Tent cities run circles around the traditional shelter system.”

Kalaniopua Young, 32, originally from Hawaii, poses outside her tent at SHARE/WHEEL Tent City 3 near

Kalaniopua Young, 32, originally from Hawaii, poses outside her tent at SHARE/WHEEL Tent City 3 near Seattle on October 12, 2015. “This is a choice I made to live here. I was lonely and depressed living in an apartment. I feel much better here with the social interaction and friendships. There is a direct democracy here with immediate results that differ from traditional bureaucracy.”

Tent city residents watch an NFL football game in their communal television area at SHARE/WHEEL Tent

Tent city residents watch an NFL football game in their communal television area at SHARE/WHEEL Tent City 3 on October 8, 2015.

Aaron Ervin, 50, in front of his tent at SHARE/WHEEL Tent City 3 near Seattle on October 8, 2015. &l

Aaron Ervin, 50, in front of his tent at SHARE/WHEEL Tent City 3 near Seattle on October 8, 2015. “Tent City has been a saving grace for me, a place for me to refresh and gather my thoughts. While I'm here I want to lead by example and be (a) positive influence on camp. People feel safe here, they are tense from being wrongfully judged from carrying all their bags as being homeless and the camp makes you feel comfortable knowing you have a safe place for your belongings, which does a lot for people making them more relaxed.”

Kadee Ingram, 28, holds her son Sean, 2, at SHARE/WHEEL Tent City 3 outside Seattle on October 13, 2

Kadee Ingram, 28, holds her son Sean, 2, at SHARE/WHEEL Tent City 3 outside Seattle on October 13, 2015. Ingram lost her job, and soon afterwards her partner Renee lost her job. “It got (to) the point where we couldn't get a job fast enough and we lost our apartment,” Ingram said. “Coming here, we really like it, being outside especially, we feel safe. We wish we would have known about it sooner.”

Tents from a homeless encampment line a street in downtown Los Angeles on January 26, 2016. Some 7,0

Tents from a homeless encampment line a street in downtown Los Angeles on January 26, 2016. Some 7,000 volunteers will fan out as part of a three-night effort to count homeless people in most of Los Angeles County. Naomi Goldman, a spokeswoman of the organizer the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority, said the goal is to “paint a picture about the state of homelessness.”




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