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?
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.