Importance of the Community Members Engaging in Civic Engagement

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Most individuals dwell in homeless encampments for multiple reasons, such as the inability to afford proper housing and challenges brought by local shelter systems. To conduct the study, Abt Associates employed a literature review methodology, alongside interviewing officials of San Jose, CA; Chicago, Houston, Fresno, CA;  Minneapolis, Philadelphia, Portland, Tacoma, WA. The study was oriented towards determining the reasons for setting and clearing encampment, especially from 2019 until the Covid 19 pandemic. They recommended that clearing encampment be conducted per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines.


The article Cities Spend Millions on Homeless Encampment Response: Report

describes that among the nine cities, four of the city governments possessed the largest funding capacities regarding encampment responses (Crowe, 2021). The four cities, Chicago, Houston, San Jose, and Tacoma, spent between $3.4 to $8.5 million in the 2019 fiscal year as community encampment responses (Crowe, 2021). Figure 1 depicts how the four cities funded the encampment in 2019.

Figure 1

Statistics of Major Cities Funding Encampment

"Cities spend millions on homeless encampment response: report" screenshot

How Cities Face the Issues, and What to Do to Help

The cities faced community encampment issues in diverse ways. According to reports, the challenges arose due to barriers to gain access to shelter systems (Crowe, 2021). Other shelter systems incorporated many expectations or rules that most people felt incompatible with, such as forbidding pets and ensuring that one was not a drunkard or that female and male guests separated (Crowe, 2021). According to Lauren Dunton, these reasons made most people feel unsafe at the shelters. Some reports claimed that encampments offered a sense of community/family (Crowe, 2021).

According to HUD, 2020 saw a significant increase in population at the encampments compared to the past four years (Crowe, 2021). It increased by 2%, leading to almost 102 individuals dying of Covid 19 in the group shelters (Crowe, 2021). For failure of observing CDC guidelines while clearing encampments, encampments lead to the spread of coronavirus. To support future response efforts concerning encampment and outreach programs to homeless individuals, cities should consider exploring new or upgraded avenues to fund their work. Federal and state governments should identify new ways of freeing up encampment responses and funds for outreach (Crowe, 2021).

In the study, a list of diverse partners such as local environmental groups, the mayor’s office, transportation departments, and city solid waste sanitation departments were involved or funded the encampments alongside outreach services (Crowe, 2021). Figure 2 depicts the sources of the encampment and outreach service funds for the major cities.

Figure 2

City Funding Source of Encampment Response Costs

"Cities spend millions on homeless encampment response: report" screenshot

Whether the Community Members Should Engage in Civic Engagement

Civic engagement is an individual or communal act identified or formulated to emphasize the issues affecting society. It employs several ways of tackling of settling and tackling the problems equally (Skocpol, 2020). For example, it could engage voluntarism, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), or electoral participation. It endorses cooperation in a community while working or solving a problem with democratic institutions/ organizations. It ensures or enables that every citizen possesses adequate opportunity to safely and comfortably participate in civic engagement activities or functions.

Multiple factors positively impact civic engagement:

  • The traditional beliefs of a community.

  • The creation of NGOs and civic organizations/ Institutions.

  • The formation of strong civic organizations and nonprofit organizations.

  • The diverse opinions of a community regarding activities affecting the public.

  • The government regulations policies (Dahl, 2005).

  • The community/society social concerns.

Importance of the Community Members Engaging in Civic Engagement

If community members engage in civic engagement, they boost political and social education, safety, decreased illiteracy, decreased crime, health disparities, and socioeconomic disparities. Civic engagement enables a community to respond and prepare for disasters or emergencies (Dent, 2008). As observed, this can be achieved via the government’s policies and support to defend and support the minority groups in the community against vulnerabilities and risks such as homelessness (Dent, 2008).



Crowe, C. (2021, April 15). Cities spend millions on homeless encampment response: Report. Smart Cities Dive.

Dahl, R. A. (2005). What political institutions does large-scale democracy require? Political Science Quarterly, 120(2), 187-197.

Dent, J. (2008). Civic capacity and community response to government action: The endangered species act and state water law in the Methow and Walla Walla basins in the Pacific Northwest. Intl Journal of Public Administration, 31(3), 262-276.

Skocpol, T. (2020). Voice and inequality: The transformation of American civic democracy. Perspectives on Politics, 2(1), 3-20.

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