Brent Adams, a local homeless advocate and champion of the Santa Cruz Sanctuary Camp housing concept, recently returned home from a multi-state tour researching and documenting more than a half dozen citizen-organized, community-sanctioned homeless communities. Along with filmmaker Jeremy Leonard, Adams traveled throughout Oregon and Washington to interview the creators, inhabitants and neighbors of camps known as “Opportunity Village,” in Eugene, Ore., “Camp Quixote,” in Olympia, Wash., and “Tent City #3,” in Seattle. The pair recently completed and released a new 30-minute documentary entitled “Exploring the Sanctuary Camp Concept.”
The core idea of a Sanctuary Camp, which Adams and a small team of campaigners are working to promote locally, is a space where people without housing can sleep safely, help to support one another, and access job training—on the condition that they do not use drugs on-site or engage in criminal activity. The basic system requires a well-defined space, a boundary perimeter with an entrance portal, Porta Potties, at least one dumpster, adequate sleeping arrangements, and a responsible oversight committee. A successful camp would also depend on a close relationship with the community, media and police department, Adams told Good Times in May of last year.
In regard to the Sanctuary Camp model, Santa Cruz Police Department Deputy Chief Steve Clark has expressed concern, citing the many unregulated homeless camps the city has spent resources on disbanding and cleaning up. Used syringes, piles of garbage and bicycle parts are commonly found in these secluded enclaves. “I’m concerned that if we go this route [of a Sanctuary Camp], we’re simply going to see another festival of dysfunction,” Clark told Good Times in August last year.