With more than a dozen homeless camps and 453 displaced residents, Virginia Beach may be the first community in the state to sanction a homeless “tent-city.”
According to Hampton Roads, the city shut down an encampment of more than 20 people in March, but following the death of a homeless woman last month they seem to be easing their position.
Proponents for the plan say it will allow for easier monitoring and provision of services.
“Until we solve the housing and poverty crisis, unfortunately, there will be people living outside,” one resident says. “There’s no other place to go.”
Opponents don’t agree. Sharon Chamard, a professor at the University of Alaska, author of a manual on homeless encampments, said homeowners often object to the idea. “Most communities are resistant to this,” she told Hampton Roads. “Many people see it as supporting an illegitimate lifestyle.”
The mayor agrees, but the decision will rest in the hands of the city council.
Chamard also points out sanctioned tent-cities face less opposition in the more liberal Pacific Northwest.