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Bozeman urban camper population at an all-time high

“I just keep to myself and keep my area clean—at least I try to,” Said Zach Jenkins.
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Posted at 6:01 PM, Jun 12, 2023
and last updated 2023-06-13 11:59:24-04

Folks are setting up camp all over Bozeman. In fact, city employees say this is the most urban campers they’ve ever seen in town.

“I just keep to myself and keep my area clean—at least I try to,” Said Zach Jenkins.

Jenkins and his dog have been living out of a camper over by WinCo for about 3 months.

“It’s not bad, we get locals that will drive past us and honk,” said Jenkins.

On Facebook, you can see many folks don’t take too kindly to our urban campers, but even so, Jenkins says he goes out of his way to be a considerate neighbor.

“You’ll get a lot less problems if you’re not loud or making a ruckus,” said Jenkins. “I don’t get bothered but the people down the block do because they’ve got a lot of stuff.”

Stuff that Assistant City Manager Kira Peters says isn’t allowed.

“It is not illegal to be unhoused or homeless,” said Peters.

But she says there are some rules.

“If you’re littering or you’re parked in a bike lane,” said Peters. That is not allowed.

“Or if someone has a camper and they also have a canopy, and then they might have a couch,” said Peters.

That’s not allowed either. But even though the city has to set some rules to keep our streets clean, they’re also lending a helping hand.

“Right now, we’re in the midst of a street clean up,” said Peters. “We’ve had a lot of support and a lot of help, not just from city staff but people out camping who’ve been very happy to help us clean.”

Like Jenkins, who says it’s not easy keeping things tidy with all these campers and only one trash can at the end of the block. All the same, he says he still appreciates the city’s effort to help out.

“They said anything you don’t want, just leave it out and we’ll throw it away. And then one of the guys who works for the hay field cuts the grass,” said Jenkins.