Planning for Self-Organized Homeless Camps: Policy, Community Relations, and Locational Process
Werner, Virginia Claire
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This thesis explores the policies, community relations, and locational process of self-organized homeless camps, in particular Camp Unity Eastside during their stay in Kirkland. The first chapter covers the importance of studying this topic, a brief introduction to Camp Unity Eastside, a critical stance, research questions, and a short background on self-organized and self-governed camps. The two-part literature review focuses on the history and policy surrounding homelessness in the United States, and theory and advocacy in design and planning. This includes discussions on spatial patterns, social justice, the right to the city, and radical pluralism as they relate to self-organized homeless camps. The methodology chapter describes the stakeholder interview process, site visits, meeting observations, and archival research. Precedent studies illustrate a trend of self-organized camps in the Pacific Northwest. Following is a detailed description of Camp Unity Eastside and its role for empowering campers and strengthening relationships among the camp, host organizations, and communities. Important findings include the high value of the camp being self-organized and self-governed in empowering the campers; the unique, mutually beneficial relationships among churches and the camp that enable the church members to live their mission while campers work to end the stigma of homelessness in a safe environment; and the usefulness of an established process in the city to have an open and transparent process of sanctioning and locating the camps where the campers have advocates. In conclusion are successful strategies for the camps, challenges facing them, and general thoughts for how camps and communities can work together with the help of host organizations and city departments.