According to the Los Angeles Times, Los Angeles builds homeless tent cities at a cost of $44,000 per tent and is maintained by Urban Alchemy, a San Francisco-based charity.
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While constructing a new tent community in East Hollywood with city approval, Los Angeles officials stressed speed above cost, reportedly paying $44,000 for each individual tent – almost the cost of a new Tesla Model Y.
The installation of fencing, restrooms, and staffing facilities for the village totaled around $4 million. An additional $3 million is spent annually on catering services and 24-hour staffing, according to the Los Angeles Times.
The site is just temporary, despite the exorbitant price. On a parking lot that will eventually become public housing, it is situated. But since it will be years before that project can start, the city chose to occupy the area with tents in the meantime.
The tent community is maintained by Urban Alchemy, a San Francisco-based charity, but not without controversy.
The group largely hired ex-offenders when it first started in 2018 with a tiny funding because they had the “ability to read people in unpredictable situations.” Since then, some of these employees have been charged with abuse in lawsuits.
After expanding to Portland and Austin in 2021, the nonprofit earned $51 million.
According to Urban Alchemy, it is providing a workable option to house California’s 172,000 homeless quickly and affordably while also providing more intangible benefits, such as safety and autonomy.
The tents at the East Hollywood facility are of a higher caliber than those one may find at a standard camping supply store. Full mattresses, storage lockers, and high wooden platforms are all present. Since it opened in February 2022, the facility has allegedly been nearly full.
In the meantime, the organization Coalition for Responsible Community Development opened an office across the street to draw in those who might be interested in making a career change.
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The group already has a variety of camp villages spread out over the state. While South Los Angeles’ tent city homes are more modest and resemble store-bought camping equipment, those in Culver City are fashioned of strong white canvas.
According to the Times, only 2% of the visitors have subsequently moved on to permanent accommodation, a number Urban Alchemy attributes to the city’s dearth of cheap housing.
About 40% of those who are homeless in the United States are now unsheltered, up from 31% eight years ago when they slept in cars, parks, or railway stations.