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Should the Coalition support the creation of large safe sites, if the opportunity to create them happens?
Group Discussion Summary • Tacoma Pierce County Coalition to End Homelessness • 8.19.2


“Oh hell, what do mine eyes with grief behold?”
— Gary Snyder, Milton by Firelight


The general answer from the discussion groups is a qualified “Yes,” although broad concern exists regarding safety and manageability of large sites.

  • It depends on how it Is done seems to be part of our answer.
  • Needs to be done right and we should be in the conversation.
  • Unit costs come down by building more in one place.
  • There are more people to assist concentrated in one spot.
  • The more sites, the better. The faster we move people out of homelessness, the better. Too long in homelessness often results in loss of hope.
  • We should embrace any opportunity to increase shelter; having a home base is far better than being on the street.
  • We need safe sites because many car campers are families trying to stay together. There is a lack of family shelters and the recent feedback I received is that the one we have isn't necessarily safe.
  • There are many women who camp in their cars, too due to personal safety issues.
  • Discussion of the hidden costs of a large site that might mitigate savings from economies of scale. Issues with substance use and mental health management for 28 people at FOB are daunting. What happens with 200-300? Needs to be adequately resourced with adequate staffing to provide 24/7 crisis management.
  • Do smaller encampments, are bigger sites safe? Do we want them? Combination?
  • Larger sites are generally more violent. While large sites are needed, smaller is preferable.
  • Concern that large sites poorly done can be more like an internment camp than a healing community.
  • Self-managed? How supporting – garbage/sewer, services/supports?
  • Larger sites are ok, but with wrap around services and assistance in making plans for the future.
  • Sanctioned encampments need to foster sense of ownership and community to be healing, regardless of the size.
  • Needs to be subgroups building community and implementing ownership.
  • Must be organized with common spaces and resident involvement.
  • Need sites for RVs and cars but do not know the optimal size for these.
  • We all agreed that moving people around does not work and lastly, the people who are needing safe sites should have a say so in what happens and what would be helpful.
  • We need one large site in the county, services spread out over the county and in Tacoma, more sites modeled after the Veterans Village.
  • Need sites for specific populations, note that recently unhoused people are families, elderly (ha!), young adults.
  • County is looking for support for Community First Village and coming at that topic through the back door instead of being honest.
  • Need a diversity of sizes, spreading out and offering options around the county instead of centering only in Tacoma.
  • Talked about how the barracks model allows for different floors or rooms that focus on different needs.
  • Should be modeling with more specific populations in mind.
  • Need sites for specific populations, note that recently unhoused people are families, elderly, young adults.
  • Need to address impacts on nearby neighbors and be mindful of what nearby neighbors want and will allow.
  • City ordinances – can you call it a shelter? Stabilization? City building/permitting issues.
  • Was this for structures or encampments? Infrastructure issues – sewer connections, paving, etc.
  • Need to encourage direct community outreach.
  • How can things be done more quickly? With urgency!

Notable News: Trump supports moving homeless people to camps in outlying areas -

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