Recently there’s been some hollering in my town about a muddy lot full of tents. It’s not the Occupy movement—haven’t heard much from them lately—it’s a tent city called Nickelsville.
Much like the Hoovervilles of the Great Depression, Nickelsville was named after a political leader—former Seattle mayor Greg Nickels—who failed to solve the problem of poverty and homelessness. This seems unfair as it’s a mighty difficult problem to solve, but the name has stuck.
Nickelsville is actually a well-organized and sensible (from the participants’ viewpoint) response to homelessness. There’s even a website: http://www.nickelsville.org/. While Seattle has shelters for homeless people, there are not enough of them and they have some major downsides. Many homeless people consider sleeping in shelters to be more dangerous than sleeping in doorways or under the freeway bridge. Shelters for families are especially hard to come by. Most of all, shelters are not homes. You…
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