Slideshow: Life Inside Boise's Tent City
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The homeless camp in the alley called Cooper Court is constantly evolving. A few weeks ago this freeway retaining wall was mostly lined by pallets where people slept under the sky. Now it's mostly tents.
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The increase in tents is largely because of a donation drive lead by Boise resident Jodi Peterson. She says she's given away more than 40 tents so far and more have been donated.
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Officials with the city think giving away tents will bring more people to the alley. Jodi Peterson says she replaced existing tents with larger, better ones. She thinks people who were sleeping outside moved into the larger tents and numbers are the same.
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There are still several makeshift shelters in Cooper Court. This is the largest, housing four people. It seems to be roofed with an enourmous advertising banner for a pet groomer.
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The man who lives here looks to be about 20. He didn't want to give his name but he says the alley is a stupid place to be, "I consider each day here a day wasted. But at the same time, it's its own community. We all stick together. We help each other."
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Most of the tents are neat and self contained. But a few have large piles of objects heaped around them. One volunteer who works with alley residents calls them the camp hoarders. Mental illnesses associated with hoarding are common among the homeless.
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Many residents are making things as homey as they can in the alley. Note the artisitically lettered 'do not disturb' sign and gause butterfly wings on this tent.
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All the activities of daily life happen in the alley. Several chiken legs are cooking in this smoker and several people are waiting to share them for dinner. Fire is one of the city's top concerns about the camp.
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Diesel is one of Cooper Court's several canine residents. Some people say they don't go to shelters because they don't want to be apart from their dogs. Companion animals are allowed in Interfaith Sanctuary, but only if they've had their shots.
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This appears to be the alley's smallest tent. There's a man inside it. He has to sleep with his body bent at the waist about 90 degrees.
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Some alley residents have a sense of humor about their situation. Someone has spray painted this matress "FREE for biological testing."
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This man says he recently moved out of the alley because of the noise from the freeway connector. He says he's gone back to a quiet spot by the river where he camped before.
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Brice says he doesn't like to fly a sign asking for money. Instead he sells his artwork which mostly features zombies, demons and other goulish creatures.