Camp shameless is an encampment for houseless residents on the near east side of Columbus, Ohio. The camp is financially sponsored by FIRST Collective and run by FIRST's founders and volunteers.
Camp shameless is home to 15-20 residents, where they are provided with shelter, food, medical supplies and care, transportation, harm reduction, and emergency funding for our residents. Camp Shameless also provides a community of support, acceptance and growth. A lot of volunteer work at Camp Shameless is trust building, listening, and de-escalation. By building trust and relationships with our residents, we are able to break down survival mode barriers to better meet their need and help get them where they need to go. Camp shameless also offers self-autonomy and a sense of ownership to our residents as all decisions for the camp are made democratically by residents and are supported by our volunteers.
Un-housed folks have been failed systemically. Columbus has a failing shelter system with a county-wide success rate of 15%. The city of Columbus has been sweeping (eradicating) houseless camps at an alarming rate. Income inequality and eviction rates are rising and our houseless population numbers are skyrocketing. This is a crisis. People deserve a safe place to sleep. People deserve housing security. People deserve dignity and autonomy. People deserve a general sense of well-being. Un-housed people deserve better.
Camp Shameless recognizes that sleeping in a tent is not ideal and we intend to change that. We are working on building micro-tiny home transitional housing communities starting right here at Camp Shameless. These communities would provide residents with a small, private, living space of their own and community spaces including bathrooms, a community kitchen, and a communal dining and lounging space. The communities would also provide services to residents in order to help them meet their personal goals and attain permanent housing.
If you'd like to follow along our journey, check out our social media accounts where we post updates on the camp and information about projects.
During the winter months of 2022, FIRST Collective operated an overnight warming center at the Old First Presbyterian Church at the intersection of Ohio and Bryden. The warming station started off with one guest, Michael, who had been sleeping outside at a bus stop just a few blocks away from the church. By mid-march there were up to 35 residents a night. The warming center was closed on March 29th, and volunteers and guests were kicked out of the building. FIRST volunteers decided that even though there was no longer a space to host a warming center, there was still a massive and urgent need to continue providing resources, services and shelter for folks experiencing houslessness.
On March 29th volunteers quickly set up a camp where all warming center guests were invited to stay. Community members and mutual aid groups dropped off tents, blankets, pillows, food, supplies, and set up a composting toilet for the guests. That night we made hot dogs and s'mores while we set up tents and moved peoples belongings to their new temporary home, what is now camp shameless.
In July of 2022, we launched a fundraising campaign to electrify Camp Shameless and met our goal in just 2 days!! This $2,500 allowed us to purchase solar panels and a storage battery to operate a community fridge, a charging station and fans.
Since the origins of the camp, we have had no electricity on site and have relied on volunteer's cars for electricity needs.
In addition to solar power, we are also working on the build out of a pedal power station for those cloudy Ohio days.
Thank you so much to everyone that donated!
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