I’ve been meaning to get over there and see what it really looked like. Yesterday I did. This is what it looks like from the outside:
To get in, you need to go through Tent City’s in-house security. One of the guys manning security offered to show me around the encampment.
We looked at the TV and computer room too, although I couldn’t take pictures because residents were in there. I asked how many private computers were in camp and my guide said about 7.
We talked for a few minutes after the tour, about temporary and permanent homelessness and the many things that bring people to Tent City. For example, several people were there due to divorce. The guy I spoke to was working and planning to get his own place again after a couple more paychecks.
The biggest complaint about Tent City was that it would bring crime. Based on the city’s crime statistics YTD 2008, that doesn’t seem to be the case. However the city’s chart doesn’t indicate when it was last updated and whether it includes most of Tent City’s stay.
It’ll take Tent City only about six hours to break down the camp at Mercer Island Methodist. Meanwhile thier advance team will be readying another site for setup, at some undisclosed location. And the convtroversy, I’m sure, will continue.