The story of Box City reflects the city’s shifting approach to homeless encampments and the impact on their residents. Many believed the navigation centers — touted as a model of moving people from “street to home” — would lead to long-term housing. But they were left demoralized and jaded about the government’s ability to help them.
Two years after the city launched its navigation centers, fewer than a quarter of the nearly 1,200 people who have passed through have been placed in verified long-term housing, and more are returning to the streets, an analysis of city records shows. The most common outcome is a one-way bus ticket to another city.