It appears that forces are congregating against Super InTent City. Government representatives, church leaders, many neighbours and concerned citizens are all mad as hell about alleged changes at tent city and the very existence of the tent city itself.
Housing Minister Rich Coleman says that if the people living at the tent city can’t comply with certain conditions by May 25, “I don’t think we have any choice but to go to court.” In the narrative of the housing minister, it seems as if the right to stay in the camp is a privilege that impoverished campers must earn by behaving appropriately.
This narrative is unconscionable and unacceptable. The residents at tent city are there because they do not have housing and because if they sleep elsewhere they will be woken up and forced to move. The housing options provided by the province are full, with long wait-lists, and some have restrictive rules that do not address the daily reality of many homeless people.
Super InTent City is a courageous response to a failing of policy and ultimately of societal compassion by the people who are most affected by this failing. Tent city shows us that displacement is not an acceptable response to homelessness. Instead, as a society we need more housing that is appropriate for homeless people.
We as housed people of Victoria have a duty to stand in solidarity with tent-city residents asserting the basic right of shelter.