Despite being forced to move six times, residents of the tent city dubbed “Nickelsville” in Seattle continue to rebuild. Each time they are “evicted,” tempers flare until a new location is found.
Tent cities are frequently maligned by media and citizens alike. Squatters, as residents are referred to, are taken as convicts, addicts, or worse. Not every tent city, however, is built on a foundation of shame. Nor are they ungoverned or ungovernable. Nickelsville has a makeshift firestation and tents for food and clothing donations.
Amazingly, this tent city is self-governed, accepts donations in an organized fashion, and prohibits drugs and alcohol.
Homeless people have a bad reputation of being thoughtless and uncouth. I have been asked, at times, if my work at the Center for Respite Care is “thankless.” It is not; in every group of clients we serve, several exhibit the same industry and selflessness as the residents of Nickelsville.