Seattle wants to build a $3 million 'mega tent' for the homeless amid a crackdown on illegal camps

  • Seattle is deciding whether to build a $US3 million “mega tent” for homeless residents.
  • The project, which draws inspiration from a program in Los Angeles, could serve as a temporary solution to the city’s mounting homelessness crisis.
  • It could also help the city get rid of illegal homeless camps, which have overtaken the urban core.

The number of people without a permanent place to live is rising in Seattle, with over half of the metro population now living outside in tents, parks, vehicles, or along the city streets. In the last year, the city has had to contend with one of the most visible signs of the crisis – a growing string of homeless encampments teeming with garbage and stray belongings.

As the city weighs a more permanent solution to the problem, they’re also considering a temporary fix: A $US3 million “mega tent.”

The idea was first proposed by city council member Teresa Mosqueda, who sees the tent as a way to provide immediate shelter to those living outdoors.

In addition to the $US3 million construction cost, the city estimated that the tent would cost $US2 million to operate, bringing the final total to $US5 million. The funds would likely hail from an $US89.5 million proposed budget for curbing homelessness in Seattle, which will be put to a vote in November.

Mosqueda’s idea draws inspiration from A Bridge Home, a Los Angeles program for emergency housing, which opened its first site in September. In addition to case management and mental health services, residents have access to beds, showers, storage facilities, restrooms, laundry services, and pet accommodations.

The concept is one of many put forward by Los Angeles to address its skyrocketing housing crisis. Other temporary solutions include backyard rentals and retrofitted hotels.

If approved in November, Seattle’s program would be a bit different than the one in LA. Rather than setting up multiple sites, the city is considering a massive shelter tent that would house around 75 to 100 people at once.

That’s a small number compared to the area’s more than 12,000 homeless residents, though it could satisfy the issue of illegal camps in the urban core. It could also buy the city time as it pursues more long-term solutions, like building affordable homes.

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