In the February 16th production, University of Washington “Tent City”, the cast was comprised of Toni Sarge, thesis student; Ted Hunter, pro bono lawyer; and dedicated volunteers Jason Tavares, Scott Morrow, and Courtney O’Toole.
As homeless shelters go, this one complies with laws, screens its residents, embraces cleanliness, and disallows drunkenness and drug activity. Hospitality is extended to visitors, from whom contributions of food and clothing are welcomed. TC is one of a network of 11 similar self-help locations. These are necessary establishments, lest people lack the basics of life.
Only 2500 shelter beds exist. Efforts are made to keep couples together. The number of affordable family housing units remains limited. People come and go. For extreme weather, warm shelters are available. TCs are self-managed, with officers elected, an executive committee is in force. A security test must be passed for entry. There is a strict code of conduct. Two security people are present around the clock.
There is a large community tent for socialization, as well as a kitchen. Weekly camp meetings are held. Bus tickets are provided for those who must get to jobs. In addition, the UW provides monthly dental care. A foot clinic, acupuncture, and alternate medicine options are available. Nursing care is also provided.
In short, not all homeless individuals are alike; a variety of factors has brought them to the shelters. The chief single factor that has made TCs necessary is the shortage of affordable housing. Until supply can meet demand, people must be sustained in this way, and by the selflessness of those who shepherd them