Resting Safe involves four overlapping phases. The project will ultimately result in a “Resting Safe Toolkit” that will enable homeless rest area, tent city, encampment, and tiny house communities across the US to learn more about and reduce risks to environmental hazards.
National Phone Survey - PHASE 1 (Fall 2018)
We are currently conducting a national phone survey of as many rest areas, tent cities, organized encampments, and tiny house villages as we can find. We will ask leaders questions about their communities and sites. For example, Approximately where are you located? Do you have access to water? What concerns do you have about health hazards, such as air pollution, soil toxins, or police violence? How are you connected to other activist or community groups? What interactions have you had with public agencies related to environmental issues?
If you are the leader of a rest area, tent city, organized encampment, or tiny house village and want to participate in our survey, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule an interview.
In-Depth Interviews - PHASE 2 (Winter - Summer 2019)
We will conduct in-depth interviews with grassroots houseless community leaders, as well as staff of natural resource agency and conservation organization groups, in a half-dozen west coast cities. Interviews will focus on two areas: 1) the rise and spread of rest area, tent city, and tiny house communities; and 2) the environmental politics of houseless communities. Stay tuned for more details.
Hazard Assessment & Remediation - PHASE 3 (Summer 2019 - Spring 2020)
Our team will work with a handful of pilot tent city communities to research site histories, conduct soil and air sampling, and inventory other environmental hazards on/near sites. Each community will collectively make decisions about how to address pollution and hazards, following a harm reduction approach. Some options include low-cost soil remediation techniques (e.g., using earthworms or laying a thick layer of mulch), relocating tents away from particularly dangerous areas, or pushing government agencies to better regulate polluters.
Resting Safe Toolkit Development - PHASE 4 (Winter 2019 - Spring 2021)
At the same time as we are working through Phases 1-3, above, we will also develop a web-based "Resting Safe Toolkit" that draws on our phone survey, in-person interviews, and experience working with pilot sites. In addition to multi-media resources to help rest area communities gain information about environmental hazards at their sites (e.g., short tutorial videos, illustrated guides, links to local site history maps), the Resting Safe Toolkit will include information about how to access soil/air quality testing materials, case studies of various approaches, and a support hotline. It will also include a platform for people to "crowd source" suggestions for staying safe, such as tips for keeping rodents at bay, links to information about safe gardening practices, and more.
Ultimately, RESTING SAFE will support rest area, tent city, encampment, and tiny house village communities across the US in learning how to gain knowledge about environmental hazards at their sites--and to reduce harm using creative and low-cost techniques.