Unfortunately, living in a tent in my city is seen as a terrible crime that must be eradicated by force, if necessary. I, on the other hand, see it as a positive sign. Tents clustered together shows a sign of community and support (maybe that is why it is so threating to some). The homeless nomads that drift to and from and sleep in doorways, more often then not, have some form of mental illness that keeps them from connecting to others and forming friendships. Some DSM terms such as “quiet form schizophrenia”, “attachment disorder”, etc. describes them. They have given up on people as a whole and keep to themselves. Not sharing their suffering until they die a victim of it.
That is why seeing a cluster of tents in a park or along a street is a sign of hope to me. Yes, I did say hope. These people are struggling , but still want to form bonds. They are much better off then those who are drifting wordlessly throughout the day, lost in their depression. But, the people who make decisions in our government see the tents in another light. They see (I suspect) visible evidence of failed educational, economic, and social policies. In an effort to do something, they react to lowered property values and fearful community members pleas to “do something” by confiscating property and breaking up the homeless persons community. Instead of taking a step forward, they take two steps backward.
Can’t areas be designated to be used for these homeless people? If the community is worried about crime, step up police patrols around the tent cities to catch anybody who is breaking the law. I’m sure not all people who can not afford rent or a home is a criminal and those who are not shouldn’t be treated like they are. Our state is missing an opportunity to help homeless people by seeing the hope in a cluster of tents and working with that hope instead of destroying all hope for those people.