Tent cities are now so common that advocates are campaigning to make them semi-permanent settlements of micro-housing. But is this a genuine solution or merely a quick fix?
In December 2014, the city of San Jose shut down what was then America’s largest homeless camp — a shantytown that stretched for sixty-eight acres along Coyote Creek where a few hundred men and women were living in tents, shacks, treehouses, and adobe dugouts.
Indeed, mass encampments, with fifty or more residents, have become increasingly common across America. Since the turn of the millennium, more than three dozen cities have accommodated camps of this scale for a year or more. 1
Little wonder that homeless people in New York have sometimes sought shelter underground. Some of the most tenacious — and out of sight — homeless colonies in New York are located in the rail and subway tunnels that crisscross the metropolis. Journalist Jennifer Toth’s account of the “mole people,” first published in the mid ‘90s, remains relevant