Some major construction projects in our area got us thinking about the homeless in our town. In a way, these folks are backpackers, too, albeit in an urban environment.
And so we started thinking about campsites: what are the criteria for a good urban campsite? And how would that be different from a good campsite in the wilderness?
The first difference would be shelter. Most of the homeless people in our area don’t have shelter—yeah, that’s why they call them homeless—so the first thing to look for is a roof over your head. That’s why highway underpasses and bridges seem to be so popular. Would that change if the homeless had effective tents? Interesting to consider.
And the next items on the agenda would be food and water. Backpackers usually carry their own food—but the urban homeless are going to be foraging. That means an ideal campsite will be not far from sources of food and water—whether those are official sources like food banks and the Salvation Army, or simply the back parking lot of the local grocery store.
If possible, you would also want access to a public restroom—although we don’t use those in the wilderness, and plenty of homeless people follow that same example in the urban environment.
And finally, you would think that all people still want a bit of privacy—so that would be another consideration for the urban backpacker/homeless person.
Do social services networks use this kind of matrix to work with the homeless?
Are there elements of backpacking equipment or technique that could improve the situation?