Homeless people have long resorted to seeking shelter in tents , but these communities are one of the first known to be organized by a sponsoring organization (a partnership between the Seattle Housing and Resource Effort and Women's Housing Equality and Enhancement League, often referred to by the combined acronym SHARE/WHEEL), and, even more notably, are one of the first in a major U.S. city to be largely accepted by local governments. Contrary to some stereotypes regarding the homeless, many residents of Tent City are employed, mostly in temporary or day labor jobs, but have insufficient income to obtain more permanent housing .
The original Tent City and Tent City 2, both created in the late 1990s, were created illegally and opposed by the City of Seattle. After being tolerated for some time, they were eventually forced to shut down. In March 2002, as a result of a legal battle, city attorney Tom Carr and SHARE/WHEEL attorney Ted Hunter signed a court ordered consent decree with SHARE, allowing Tent City only on private land (by invitation) and setting standards for its operation.
Based on the consent decree Tent City 3 was created and rotates around the Metro Seattle Core. Tent City 4 was created in May 2004 as an attempt to expand beyond the consent decree and use public land and resources, something the consent decree does not allow. This attempt was unsuccessful and Tent City 4 has since been relocated to eastern King County where it is church sponsored. Tent City rules do not allow drug or alcohol use, and evicts anyone caught stealing or committing other crimes within the camp. Stays for Tent City 3 have been around 3 weeks on average while Tent City 4 has had stays as long as 100 days. Cities have been adopting code amendments that limit stays to 60-90 days.
Info on websites
Tent City - Temporary Homeless Shelters, Municipal Research and Services Center of Washington