Does your city have abandoned schools or similar public buildings? The one pictured above is on sale. I was a kid when I first thought of turning a school into a home.
If people are reluctant to give up their tent communities - because the tent is their own private space and the others are their family/friends - you could actually let them move their tent communities into abandoned schools. For anyone reluctant to give up the independence and security of having their own tent, and for those who've had negative experiences in public housing or shelters, this would be a less traumatic move than other public housing. It would be attractive from the standpoint the weather would no longer be an issue and bathroom facilities would be readily available. For community members, it would get the tents out of sight. Hopefully the bathrooms and access to clothing would be utilized so when going out in public, the (formerly) homeless would blend in more and be targeted less often. For government officials, it would provide housing more quickly than building new and with lower costs. Process: 1. Do any repairs necessary to the building. Make sure plumbing is working, for sure. If there are no showers, turn some toilet stalls into showers. Make sure there's heat and adequate cooling. Also make sure there's wi-fi and phone service, both for services and residents. That ability to connect is essential to get life back on track. If there's a cafeteria and/or kitchen, get an existing soup kitchen to move into that space. 2. Keep offices for official business - where records of who's living there are kept, where services can be available on site.
3. Profile space for all key services to avoid transportation issues. Possibly assign one room as a free second-hand shop for clothing and essentials. 4. Decide how many people can live in a given section, based on space and bathroom facilities and fire codes. 5. Randomly select order for communities to move in. 6. Assign each a set of rooms together, according to the numbers determined in #4 above, and let them make living space arrangements from there, within any limitations set by fire, health, or similar codes. Be as flexible as possible. 7. Allow tents, but they might have to be separated by a given distance for fire codes and such. Allow refrigerators - whether they want to share one or have individual mini-fridges (which might reduce conflicts). Specify if/where cooking may occur - probably an outdoor space for fire codes. 8. If there's a large parking area, people living in cars and vans could park there and have easy access to services in the building.
Eventually, services in-house could include 24/7 emergency response for medical & mental crises, which would make it easier on those services elsewhere. Staff could be rotated in from other houses to avoid burn-out. Having routine medical and mental health facilities on site would also make it easier for those who need daily medication to stay on it. Having access to wi-fi and a stable address makes it easier to apply for job. Having a shower makes it easier to land and keep one.
Some people will be able to get away from homelessness. Others may choose more traditional homeless housing when it comes available. Some will feel safer and be most comfortable staying in their tent this way forever.
What do you think?