One aspect to the psychology of the current downturn is that we all knew we couldn't keep going as we were, but didn't know how to make a smooth transition to a less consumption-based style of living. So, along with the understandable nagging dread one feels now, there's an unspecific hope that what will eventually emerge will be better and saner than the way things used to be.
Some of the fascination of an article like this is that it suggests that the lower bounds of what's possible may not be so terrible; it's like looking over a bluff and thinking "I could jump down that far without getting hurt." Part of making the drop seem not so far is that even at the bottom human connection and care still operate. Maybe we can even do something to soften the landing, if not (hopefully) for ourselves, then for others. Something like 80% of the homeless are only homeless for a while--less than 6 months--and then never homeless again. For the remaining 20%, it seems to be the only adaptation to their interior and exterior circumstances they can manage.
The classical conservative fear is that if you make a bad situation less oppressive, people will have no incentive to leave it. The classical liberal hope is that if you make the situation less grinding, people will have more will and energy to rise above it. These tents are a wonderful example of the latter view.
I'm sure the unit cost will go down as production volume goes up, and production/design experience accumulates.