Tent Cities: The New American Poverty
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Have You Seen This?

Have You Seen This?

Just a few months ago, I heard of a tent city in Los Angeles for the first time—home of the poor, down-trodden and, in recent times, of people who lost their homes to foreclosure.


This week my attention was captured by more of the same news. It seems that there are tent cities springing up all across the country. And in the wake of the developing recession, they are more and more populated with the working poor, people who hold a job but can’t afford decent housing.


Tent cities are not a new phenomenon; an article on Wikipedia, for example, mentions four tent cities, in St. Petersburg, FL, Seattle and King County, WA, and Toronto, Canada. But these are just the tip of the iceberg.


Yesterday, George Ure of www.urbansurvival.com posted numerous emails from subscribers who reported about tent cities in or near their hometowns. For obvious reasons, there are more tents to be found in the southern parts of the U.S. than in the northern, but by and large it appears that we’re looking at a trend here.


Some of the camps have been “adopted” by local churches, and some municipalities, like the city of Olympia, WA, recently passed laws recognizing and regulating tent cities. But most American cities, trying to keep the sight of blight away from tourists and well-do-to residents, have cracked down on the camps, dissolving or moving them to other, less visible places.


A March article by Digital Journal reported that “Southern California has seen a massive increase in resident in its tent city, housed on vacant land between railroad tracks and the airport. The camp sprang up in July of ’07 with 20 residents, and now boasts over 200 and is growing daily as the region east of Los Angeles continues to experience massive foreclosures. Most residents live in tents, some in mobile homes in various states of disrepair, their possessions crammed in with them or spread out on the ground.”


A recent Reuters article about a tent city in Ontario, CA confirms the trend: “As more families throw in the towel and head to foreclosure here and across the nation, the social costs of collapse are adding up in the form of higher rates of homelessness, crime and even disease. While no current residents [of the camp] claim to be victims of foreclosure, all agree that tent city is a symptom of the wider economic downturn. And it’s just a matter of time before foreclosed families end up at tent city, local housing experts say.”


In light of the fact that the recession has only just begun, it is rather worrisome to see how far the country has already sunk. What will it be like in the throes of a really deep recession, or even, as some financial pundits—including Casey Research’s own Doug Casey—predict, a “Greater Depression”?


We live in “interesting times,” indeed.

Posted 04-11-2008 11:20 AM by Shannara Johnson
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