Tents Time for the Homeless


| September 6, 2002 Issue

A first-ever, police-run tent city is in the works in Gambit Weekly, and the city's homeless and homeless advocates are worried that it will be just another jail rather than a safe place to sleep. Katy Reckdahl in Best of New Orleans reports on plans coming from the New Orleans Police Department's Eighth District and its captain, Louis Dabdoub.

According to Reckdahl, the New Orleans's police arrests for homeless "crimes" such as panhandling and sleeping in parks had become especially aggressive this past summer. Then in June, Dabdoub proposed his idea for solving the city's chronic homelessness with what he says is "less tent city, more 'homeless sanctuary.'"

Dabdoub intends the tent city as a tempotary shelter that would be followed in one to three years by a real shelter.

Tent cities have been successful in other cities such as Los Angeles, but they have been run by nonprofits or the homeless themselves. Homeless advocates are skeptical about people's willingness to use the New Orleans facility if the police are running it, and contemplate police bringing homeless there after picking them up from the street. Others have said that a tent city "lacks dignity," and other alternatives should be sought.
--Julie Madsen
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RELATED LINKS:
Homeless deaths spur Isla Vista tent city for shelter against cold, Terry Messma, Hopedance

The Share/Wheel Tent City Project
with FAQs about tent cities, and why they are sometimes preferable to shelters