Understanding encampents of people experiencing homelessness and community responses: emerging evidence as of late 2018

From: National Alliance to End Homelessness

This literature review, part of a research collaboration with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), offers a better understanding of encampments and how communities are responding to them. In some parts of the country, high barrier shelters prevent people from filling available beds.  Potential consumers turn to encampments where they may feel a better sense of freedom, community, and safety. Community reactions to encampments range from drastic police sweeps (clearing out residents) to formal sanctions.

Some cities are adopting San Francisco’s Navigation Centers model to assist people living in encampments by removing barriers to accessing services and housing. Evidence shows that clearing out encampments without follow-up support services does nothing to solve the actual problem but instead creates unnecessary trauma for inhabitants. More research on the demographic characteristics of people living in encampments would better inform policy and program initiatives.

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