CNN: America's homeless: The rise of Tent City, USA
tony at cultureshop.org.uk
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
NEW YORK (CNNMoney)
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
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
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
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...
More information about the Diggers350