CNN: America's homeless: The rise of Tent City, USA

Tony Gosling tony at
Thu May 22 18:49:54 BST 2014

America's homeless: The rise of Tent City, USA

May 16, 2014: 5:35 PM ET
Watch a tent city get bulldozed

Homeless encampments known as "tent cities" are popping up across the country.

Formed as an alternative to shelters and street-living, these 
makeshift communities are often set up off of highways, under bridges 
and in the woods. Some have "mayors" who determine the rules of the 
camp and who can and can't join, others are a free-for-all. Someare 
overflowing with trash, old food, human waste and drug paraphernalia, 
others are relatively clean and drug-free.

The National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty documented media 
accounts of tent cities between 2008 and 2013, and estimated that 
there are more than 100 tent communities in the United States -- and 
it says the encampments are on the rise.

"[T]here have been increasing reports of homeless encampments 
emerging in communities across the country, primarily in urban and 
suburban areas and spanning states as diverse as Hawaii, Alaska, 
California, and Connecticut," the organization's study states.

Camden shuts down its tent cities

Tent cities are most common in areas where shelter space is scarce or 
housing unaffordable. Yet, many people say they choose to live in a 
tent even when shelter is an option. And they do so for one big 
reason: freedom.

Shelters typically have strict rules: many require guests to check in 
and out at certain times that can conflict with work schedules and 
they often don't allow couples to stay together. Drug and alcohol use 
is also prohibited, and some people don't qualify for the subsidies 
they need to stay in a shelter because of a prior jail time (for 
certain crimes), or other reasons.

"Shelter is one step away from jail," said Dave, who lived in a 
city in Camden, N.J., that CNNMoney visited.

Counting the homeless in America's poorest city

Another resident of the same camp, Mike, said the only work he has 
been able to find is part-time road maintenance, which takes place at 
night. Because the shelters in the area would have required him to be 
inside by a certain time, like 10 p.m., staying there wasn't an 
option. Setting up his own tent in the woods gave him the freedom to 
come and go as he pleased.

Some residents also view tent cities as safer than shelters because 
they say there's more of a sense of community.

Tent city residents lose their homes

As these encampments continue to spread, public officials are 
responding in different ways.

The NLCHP found that of the more than 100 camps, only eight were 
actually considered legal. Ten tent cities weren't officially 
recognized, but the city or county wasn't doing anything to get rid 
of them. The vast majority of encampments, however, have been shut 
down and occupants have been evicted.

Homeless and living in Camden, N.J.

One of the most recent 
took place 
Camden, N.J., this week, when the state, county and city joined 
forces to shut down multiple tent cities and kick out the residents. 
While the county worked with the occupants to find them somewhere to 
go, Camden's shelters were already full and many people ended up on 
the streets.

Instead of evicting people from tent cities, the NLCHP says the root 
of the issue -- unaffordable housing -- needs to be addressed.

"Encampments and tent cities have emerged as a means of self-help for 
homeless individuals to survive and find shelter, safety and a sense 
of community," the report states. "Ultimately, the solution to the 
proliferation of encampments across the United States is the 
provision of affordable housing." 
To top of page

-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: <>

More information about the Diggers350 mailing list