Wacky Idea #1: indoor campgrounds as housing solution

fill 'em in

One of the side effects of current market conditions is the above: great, big, empty spaces where stores pushing overconsumption used to live. That’s a whole lot of unused real estate that’s too expensive to tear down – and unlikely to see a new tenant anytime soon.

Since these stores are already hooked up…why not convert them into indoor campgrounds, especially for those booted from homes in the foreclosure mess? Yes, I know that a)it’s a modern Hooverville situation and b)there’s no way around the whole “refugee camp” angle. I would try it anyway. Why?

  1. In places with harsh winter conditions, it will reduce unnecessary deaths and weather-related injuries by a lot. Making people homeless and then having them end up on disability because of unavoidable frostbite just allows for a much bigger problem.
  2. It fixes the “no address” problem that sometimes confronts job seekers and people seeking benefits they are actually due. By giving these people indoor space to a place already marked for regular freight deliveries, they can set up until they’re ready to leave.
  3. The health department already has policies in place for buildings like this. It can also help with managing major public health and education issues, by establishing a landing pad for people falling through the cracks.

I do not envision this as a free-rent situation. People who use the space would have to chip in for water and electric expenses, in the form of a weekly lot rental. Fundraising for those in the most dire need would be a factor, and there would need to be some sort of indoor neighborhood watch/security agreement as well as on-site healthcare workers who also deserve pay. Also, tape. I can see needing to mark off boundaries with tape and rulers a lot.

There is also the issue of retail neighbors who may or may not be willing to handle the population of the indoor campground.

I would not want to see this as a permanent solution, just as a place to go to get back on your feet/get stable where at least you know you’ll have a roof over your head.