Tents-4-Homeless is run by the Center for Human Rights and Constitutional Law Inc. The Center is a non-profit, tax-exempt, public interest legal foundation dedicated to furthering and protecting the civil, constitutional, and human rights of vulnerable low-income communities. While distributing food to homeless families and unaccompanied youth in Los Angeles several years ago, Peter Schey, the Center's President, talked with hundreds of people, including children, sleeping on sidewalks and under freeway overpasses about their inability to secure emergency housing in shelters and what they wanted other than food. The almost unanimous response was "we need tents to protect us from the cold and to give us some privacy at night." So began the Tents-4-Homeless project which has by now distributed well over a thousand tents to homeless people in Los Angeles and other cities around the United States.
According to a count completed in February 2022 by the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority (LAHSA), 69,144 people were experiencing homelessness in LA County at that time, a 4.1% rise from 2020, and 41,980 people were experiencing homelessness in the City of LA, up 1.7% from 2020.
During the pandemic, one-time federal assistance and local economic policies like eviction moratoriums and rentals assistance helped keep people in their homes. However, many of those policies and funding sources are now ending, providing fewer resources for the rehousing system to help those who fall into homelessness.
The Center's President Peter Schey observes that "given the enormous size of the homeless population in Los Angeles and in other urban areas, emergency shelters and public housing are filled to capacity with long waitlists. Tents and sleeping bags are obviously not the long-term solution, however, they do provide homeless people and youth with a modicum of shelter and privacy." Long-term solutions which we fully support and urge others to support , include, for example, permanent supportive housing, rapid rehousing, shelters and other crisis services, integrated health care, and capacity building. See, for example, State Resources to Address California’s Homeless Crisis, United States Interagency Council on Homelessness, and Coalition for the Homeless - Proven Solutions.
Since its incorporation in 1980, under the leadership of a board of directors comprised of civil rights attorneys, community advocates, and religious leaders, the Center has provided a wide range of legal services to vulnerable low-income victims of human and civil rights violations and technical support and training to hundreds of legal aid attorneys and paralegals in the areas of constitutional law, international human rights, and complex and class action litigation.
The goal of Tents-4-Homeless is to provide tents to chronically homeless people living on the streets of Los Angeles. Given the enormous size of the homeless population in Los Angeles, emergency shelters are filled to capacity with long waitlists. Tents are not the long-term solution, however, they do provide a modicum of privacy and shelter from sun and inclement weather.
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights states that everyone has the right to housing and to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, or disability.
According to the United Nations, globally there are 100 million homeless people. As many as 2.5 million to 3.5 million Americans are homeless over the course of a year, including about 1.4 million children. One out of every three homeless people in the United States is living in an unsheltered location. According to the National Alliance to End Homelessness, five to seven percent of American youths become homeless in any given year.
The Tents-4-Homeless project does not address the root causes of homelessness -- rapid economic globalization, increasing trends towards privatization and land speculation, lack of job training programs, lack of affordable housing options, poverty, and mental illness.
The Resources page lists many organizations working on structural changes to end homelessness.
Our efforts are aimed at addressing the pressing need of homeless people for a basic shelter to protect themselves from the rain or cold nights when emergency housing in a shelter program is not available. You can help by donating a tent or sleeping bag, or by making a donation so that Tents-4-Homeless may acquire and distribute tents and sleeping bags on your behalf.
Decent, safe, and affordable housing is a fundamental human right. We have an obligation to ensure the housing needs of all are met, especially poor and vulnerable people and their families.