Magazine

Dec 21, 2015

Homeless in America’s tent cities

Homeless in America’s tent cities

At homeless encampments from Seattle, Washington state to Las Cruces, New Mexico, residents live away from the dangers of life on the streets, saying the stability helps them work toward their goals. Despite a shortage of affordable housing for the poor and budget constraints on social welfare programmes, many U.S. cities have clamped down on the tent cities in the past few years.
And here the world is thinking America is the land of the free, rich and plentiful.

Homeless in America’s tent cities
1

Matt Mercer, a one-time resident of Camp Hope, poses among tents in Las Cruces, New Mexico 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." SHANNON STAPLETON/REUTERS

Homeless in America’s tent cities
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Richey Luper, from Newport Beach, California, sits outside his tent at Camp Hope in Las Cruces, New Mexico October 7, 2015. "This is good ...The tent city gives a sense of safety. No doubt about it," Luper said. Camp Hope describe themselves as an "alternative transitional living project for the homeless". Around 50 people live at the camp. SHANNON STAPLETON/REUTERS

Homeless in America’s tent cities
3

Clouds pass above Camp Hope in Las Cruces, New Mexico October 6, 2015. Camp Hope describe themselves as "alternative transitional living project for the homeless". Around 50 people live at the camp. At homeless encampments from Seattle, Washington state to Las Cruces, New Mexico, residents live away from the dangers of life on the streets, saying the stability helps them work towards their goals. Despite a shortage of affordable housing for the poor and budget constraints on social welfare programmes, many U.S. cities have clamped down on tent cities in the past few years. SHANNON STAPLETON/REUTERS

Homeless in America’s tent cities
4

Cowboy boots, a prized possession of Richey Luper, from Newport Beach, California, are seen outside his tent at Camp Hope in Las Cruces, New Mexico October 6, 2015. Camp Hope describe themselves as an "alternative transitional living project for the homeless". Around 50 people live at the camp. At homeless encampments from Seattle, Washington state to Las Cruces, New Mexico, residents live away from the dangers of life on the streets, saying the stability helps them work towards their goals. Despite a shortage of affordable housing for the poor and budget constraints on social welfare programmes, many U.S. cities have clamped down on tent cities in the past few years. SHANNON STAPLETON/REUTERS

Homeless in America’s tent cities
5

Stanley Smith, 60, from Alabama, sits outside his tent at Camp Hope in Las Cruces, New Mexico October 5, 2015. "The economy isn't getting no better, I don't care what the news says. There is not a person out there that is not one pay-check away from being out here," Smith said. Smith has moved around the country since the age of 15 and arrived at Camp Hope in 2011. Camp Hope describe themselves as an "alternative transitional living project for the homeless". Around 50 people live at the camp. SHANNON STAPLETON/REUTERS

Homeless in America’s tent cities
6

Daniel J. Wabsey, a 58-year-old war veteran, sits outside his tent at Camp Hope in Las Cruces, New Mexico 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. Camp Hope describe themselves as an "alternative transitional living project for the homeless". Around 50 people live at the camp. SHANNON STAPLETON/REUTERS

Homeless in America’s tent cities
7

Resident Stanley Smith, 60, from Alabama, cuts spam for a meal at Camp Hope in Las Cruces, New Mexico October 5, 2015. Camp Hope describe themselves as an "alternative transitional living project for the homeless". Around 50 people live at the camp. SHANNON STAPLETON/REUTERS

Homeless in America’s tent cities
8

A bible and ashtray filled with cigarettes are seen at SHARE/WHEEL Tent City 4 outside Seattle, Washington October 9, 2015. SHARE and WHEEL describe themselves as self-organised, democratic organisations of homeless and formally homeless people which run several self-managed tent cities. At homeless encampments from Seattle, Washington state to Las Cruces, New Mexico, residents live away from the dangers of life on the streets, saying the stability helps them work towards their goals. Despite a shortage of affordable housing for the poor and budget constraints on social welfare programmes, many U.S. cities have clamped down on tent cities in the past few years. SHANNON STAPLETON/Reuters

Homeless in America’s tent cities
9

Buzz Chevara, 56, poses in front of his tent at SHARE/WHEEL Tent City 4 outside Seattle, Washington 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. SHARE and WHEEL describe themselves as self-organised, democratic organisations of homeless and formally homeless people which run several self-managed tent cities. SHANNON STAPLETON/Reuters

Homeless in America’s tent cities
10

Stephan Schleicher, 31, poses in front of his tent at SHARE/WHEEL Tent City 4 outside Seattle, Washington 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 organisations of homeless and formally homeless people which run several self-managed tent cities. SHANNON STAPLETON/Reuters

Homeless in America’s tent cities
11

Tents are seen at SHARE/WHEEL Tent City 4 around 35 miles outside Seattle, Washington October 9, 2015. At homeless encampments from Seattle, Washington state to Las Cruces, New Mexico, residents live away from the dangers of life on the streets, saying the stability helps them work towards their goals. Despite a shortage of affordable housing for the poor and budget constraints on social welfare programmes, many U.S. cities have clamped down on tent cities in the past few years. SHANNON STAPLETON/Reuters

Homeless in America’s tent cities
12

A photograph is seen in a home at Quixote Village in Olympia, Washington October 11, 2015. Quixote Village is made up of 30 cottages, a community building with a kitchen, showers and laundry facilities and a vegetable garden. At homeless encampments from Seattle, Washington state to Las Cruces, New Mexico, residents live away from the dangers of life on the streets, saying the stability helps them work towards their goals. Despite a shortage of affordable housing for the poor and budget constraints on social welfare programmes, many U.S. cities have clamped down on tent cities in the past few years. SHANNON STAPLETON/Reuters

Homeless in America’s tent cities
13

Lantz Rowland, 59, holds a ring as he poses in front of his tent at SHARE/WHEEL Tent City 3 outside Seattle, Washington 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." SHARE and WHEEL describe themselves as self-organised, democratic organisations of homeless and formally homeless people which run several self-managed tent cities. SHANNON STAPLETON/Reuters

Homeless in America’s tent cities
14

Lantz Rowland, 59 poses in front of his tent at SHARE/WHEEL Tent City 3 outside Seattle, Washington 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." SHARE and WHEEL describe themselves as self-organised, democratic organisations of homeless and formally homeless people which run several self-managed tent cities. SHANNON STAPLETON/Reuters

Homeless in America’s tent cities
15

Kadee Ingram, 28, holds her son Sean, 2, at SHARE/WHEEL Tent City 3 outside Seattle, Washington 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." SHANNON STAPLETON/Reuters

Homeless in America’s tent cities
16

Kalaniopua Young, 32, originally from Hawaii, poses outside her tent at SHARE/WHEEL Tent City 3 outside Seattle, Washington 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." SHARE and WHEEL are self-organised, democratic organisations of homeless and formally homeless people which run several self-managed tent cities. SHANNON STAPLETON/Reuters

Homeless in America’s tent cities
17

Tents stand at SHARE/WHEEL Tent City 3 outside of Seattle, Washington October 12, 2015. SHARE and WHEEL describe themselves as self-organised, democratic organisations of homeless and formally homeless people which run several self-managed tent cities. At homeless encampments from Seattle, Washington state to Las Cruces, New Mexico, residents live away from the dangers of life on the streets, saying the stability helps them work towards their goals. Despite a shortage of affordable housing for the poor and budget constraints on social welfare programmes, many U.S. cities have clamped down on tent cities in the past few years. SHANNON STAPLETON/Reuters

Homeless in America’s tent cities
18

Sharon Wilson, 59, poses outside her cottage in Olympia, Washington October 11, 2015. Quixote Village is made up of 30 cottages, a community building with a kitchen, showers and laundry facilities and a vegetable garden. "Moving inside was a culture shock for a lot of the hardcore campers. I will never forget the first morning we woke up here. One of the residents went outside looking for the outhouse, not realising he had a bathroom," said Wilson. SHANNON STAPLETON/Reuters

Homeless in America’s tent cities
19

Stanley Smith, 60, from Alabama, holds his prized possession, a buck knife outside his tent at Camp Hope in Las Cruces, New Mexico October 6, 2015. "The economy isn't getting no better, I don't care what the news says. There is not a person out there that is not one pay-check away from being out here," Smith said. Smith has moved around the country since the age of 15 and arrived at Camp Hope in 2011. Camp Hope describe themselves as an "alternative transitional living project for the homeless". Around 50 people live at the camp. SHANNON STAPLETON/REUTERS

Homeless in America’s tent cities
20

Residents walk at night at Camp Hope in Las Cruces, New Mexico October 5, 2015. Camp Hope describe themselves as an "alternative transitional living project for the homeless". Around 50 people live at the camp. At homeless encampments from Seattle, Washington state to Las Cruces, New Mexico, residents live away from the dangers of life on the streets, saying the stability helps them work towards their goals. Despite a shortage of affordable housing for the poor and budget constraints on social welfare programmes, many U.S. cities have clamped down on tent cities in the past few years. SHANNON STAPLETON/REUTERS

Homeless in America’s tent cities
21

Emma Savage, 6, opens a birthday card given to her by her dad Robert Rowe, 42, a day labourer who had just returned from a 12-hour working day to SHARE/WHEEL Tent City 3 outside Seattle, Washington October 12, 2015. SHARE and WHEEL describe themselves as self-organised, democratic organisations of homeless and formally homeless people which run several self-managed tent cities. SHANNON STAPLETON/Reuters

Homeless in America’s tent cities
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Emma Savage, 6, runs with a balloon between tents at SHARE/WHEEL Tent City 3 outside Seattle, Washington October 13, 2015. SHARE and WHEEL describe themselves as self-organised, democratic organisations of homeless and formally homeless people which run several self-managed tent cities. SHANNON STAPLETON/Reuters

Homeless in America’s tent cities
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Tent city residents watch an NFL football game in their communal television area at SHARE/WHEEL Tent City 3 outside Seattle, Washington October 8, 2015. SHARE and WHEEL describe themselves as self-organised, democratic organisations of homeless and formally homeless people which run several self-managed tent cities. SHANNON STAPLETON/Reuters

Homeless in America’s tent cities
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David Yu, 32, poses with his three and a half month old son Joseph, outside his tent at SHARE/WHEEL Tent City 3 outside Seattle, Washington October 8, 2015. SHARE and WHEEL describe themselves as self-organised, democratic organisations of homeless and formally homeless people which run several self-managed tent cities. SHANNON STAPLETON/Reuters

Homeless in America’s tent cities
25

Aaron Ervin, 50, poses in front of his tent at SHARE/WHEEL Tent City 3 outside Seattle, Washington 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." SHARE and WHEEL describe themselves as self-organised, democratic organisations of homeless and formally homeless people which run several self-managed tent cities. SHANNON STAPLETON/Reuters

Homeless in America’s tent cities
26

Daniel Paul Oakes, 23, works on a bicycle in his single-room structure at the homeless tent encampment Nickelsville in Seattle, Washington October 12, 2015. "I have been homeless for three and a half years and been at Nickelsville for about 10 months. For the most part everybody gets along. I'd like to have a job that would get me out of here," Oakes said. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton PICTURE 28 OF 35 - SEARCH "STAPLETON TENTS" FOR ALL IMAGES SHANNON STAPLETON/Reuters

Homeless in America’s tent cities
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A general view is seen of the unsanctioned homeless tent encampment Nickelsville in Seattle, Washington October 8, 2015. At homeless encampments from Seattle, Washington state to Las Cruces, New Mexico, residents live away from the dangers of life on the streets, saying the stability helps them work towards their goals. Despite a shortage of affordable housing for the poor and budget constraints on social welfare programmes, many U.S. cities have clamped down on tent cities in the past few years. SHANNON STAPLETON/Reuters

Homeless in America’s tent cities
28

Shane Savage, 41, and his partner Jammie Nichols pose outside their tent at SHARE/WHEEL Tent City 3 outside Seattle, Washington October 12, 2015. SHARE and WHEEL describe themselves as a self-organised, democratic organisations of homeless and formally homeless people which run several self-managed tent cities. SHANNON STAPLETON/Reuters

Homeless in America’s tent cities
29

A water cooler is seen at the Nickelsville homeless tent encampment in Seattle, Washington October 13, 2015. At homeless encampments from Seattle, Washington state to Las Cruces, New Mexico, residents live away from the dangers of life on the streets, saying the stability helps them work towards their goals. Despite a shortage of affordable housing for the poor and budget constraints on social welfare programmes, many U.S. cities have clamped down on tent cities in the past few years SHANNON STAPLETON/Reuters

Homeless in America’s tent cities
30

Gary Dumo, 36, shows his tattoos while working security at the homeless tent encampment Nickelsville in Seattle, Washington October 13, 2015. "I'd love to see myself in a home, with working power, electricity, walls and air-conditioned. I'm pretty sure there are more people though that need a place to stay," Dumo said. SHANNON STAPLETON/Reuters

Homeless in America’s tent cities
31

Matt Hannahs, 32, poses with his son Devin outside their tent by a wood fire at Nickelsville homeless tent encampment in Seattle, Washington 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. SHANNON STAPLETON/Reuters

Homeless in America’s tent cities
32

Clyde Burgit and his wife Helen, who have been at the camp for two weeks, sit on a mattress near their tent by the Watergate and Whitehurst Freeway in Washington D.C., November 16, 2015. "Everybody looks out for everybody, this was great and everybody gets along," Clyde said.On November 20, 2015 the residents were evicted from the area, according to local reports. SHANNON STAPLETON/Reuters

Homeless in America’s tent cities
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Lovenia Evans, who is pregnant, smokes a cigarette by her tent between the Watergate and Whitehurst Freeway in Washington D.C., 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. On November 20, 2015 the residents were evicted from the area, according to local reports. SHANNON STAPLETON/Reuters

Homeless in America’s tent cities
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James Bannister, 38, stands by his tent near the Watergate and Whitehurst Freeway in Washington D.C., November 16, 2015. SHANNON STAPLETON/Reuters

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