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Contemporary Hooverville
March 18, 2008 11:02 AM   Subscribe

Tent cities spring up in L.A. With foreclosures rates still rising, shantytowns have started springing up in Los Angeles.
posted by MythMaker (81 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite

 
I think that's a single tent city in Ontario. The relationship to the subprime crisis is tenuous, if not wholly invented.

LA Times coverage: 1,2.

The full BBC article.

Your framing is incredibly deceptive, MythMaker. Boo to you. I suppose it fits your name, though.
posted by mr_roboto at 11:11 AM on March 18, 2008 [4 favorites]


Well, I was quoting the framing of the BBC.
posted by MythMaker at 11:14 AM on March 18, 2008


Well, boo to them, then.
posted by mr_roboto at 11:16 AM on March 18, 2008


Wow. it's just a garden variety description of homelessness and then this:

But one man, who did not give his name [because we made him up], said he and his family were living in Tent City because they were victims of America's foreclosure crisis. It came down to "feeding my family or keeping the house", he said, "so I got rid of the house".

I expect better from the BBC.
posted by drjimmy11 at 11:18 AM on March 18, 2008


Tent City in New Orleans
posted by nitsuj at 11:18 AM on March 18, 2008


Yes, I find it completely impossible to believe that when homes are being foreclosed on at a record pace anyone could possibly be newly homeless.

Good work in ferreting these secret billionaires out, Internet! They'll think twice before pretending to live in a tent next time!
posted by DU at 11:21 AM on March 18, 2008 [4 favorites]


To quote the BBC article you linked to, mr_roboto (Domo arigato!)

No longer able to afford his mortgage payments, this man saw his lender repossess the property, and now someone else lives there.

"It's hard for me to see it, when someone else owns it and I am homeless with nothing," he said.

There are thousands like him across California - people whose inability to finance their mortgages has cost them their homes; many thousands more across the US.


As we've been discussing what's going on with the U.S. economy of late, the existence of shantytowns in L.A. might just be a provocative foretaste of what is to come.

I hope it isn't. But it's certainly food for thought.
posted by MythMaker at 11:21 AM on March 18, 2008


Bushville?
posted by Pollomacho at 11:23 AM on March 18, 2008


the existence of shantytowns in L.A.

You would think someone who lives here would know the difference between "L.A." and Ontario- which is not even in Los Angeles COUNTY.
posted by drjimmy11 at 11:24 AM on March 18, 2008


the existence of shantytowns in L.A.

Where are their shantytowns in LA? I see evidence of one tent city for the homeless outside of Ontario. That's not even LA county.
posted by mr_roboto at 11:24 AM on March 18, 2008


Shruburbs.
posted by zueod at 11:26 AM on March 18, 2008 [35 favorites]


(Sorry for the off-topic, but I was born in Ontario. The wikipedia page has a shot of Chaffey HS, which I lived next to when I was like 5. Ah, good times.)
posted by DU at 11:26 AM on March 18, 2008


drjimmy: You would think someone who lives here would know the difference between "L.A." and Ontario- which is not even in Los Angeles COUNTY.

as a former resident of LA, i call the whole shitpile "LA," so don't be surprised if someone from england lumps in a place called "ontario," especially considering there's another place called ontario that might cause some confusion.
posted by klanawa at 11:30 AM on March 18, 2008


It's a domino effect:

"People lose their homes through foreclosure," he says. "They go and live in the hotels, and the homeless people who were in the hotels end up back on the streets."

And it'll get worse once the recession-or-depression really sinks its fangs in, and the people living in the motels can't afford the rent after they're laid off. Time to take my tent out and make sure it's in good repair...
posted by Halloween Jack at 11:31 AM on March 18, 2008


As we've been discussing what's going on with the U.S. economy of late, the existence of shantytowns in L.A. might just be a provocative foretaste of what is to come.

In Seattle, we've had them for a number of years.

Last I looked, our housing prices are stable and our foreclosure rate is up but still trailing the rest of the country.

And it looks like the Tent City movement has been around LA for a while.

So, coorelation != causation or something. Very poor reporting by the Beeb there.
posted by dw at 11:34 AM on March 18, 2008 [1 favorite]


"Lalala, it's not happening. Lalala, it's not happening. And if it is happening, it's not happening in my neighborhood."
posted by Bora Horza Gobuchul at 11:40 AM on March 18, 2008 [1 favorite]


The Inland Empire is suburban L.A. - so, in the big picture, it's close enough to use that term.

I guess the big question really is - with foreclosure rates on the rise, and more and more people losing their homes, what's next? If the recession grows, and unemployment rises (I've certainly seen anecdotal underemployment with a lot of people I know out here), what happens to the people who lose their homes? What percentage of them land on their feet vs. what percentage of them end up in the ranks of the homeless?

The rise in foreclosures creates an entire chain of events. None of which look particularly good for the U.S. economy.
posted by MythMaker at 11:41 AM on March 18, 2008


Well, if housing prices fall, I expect more people will be able to afford homes.
posted by mr_roboto at 11:43 AM on March 18, 2008


It is unfair when people who can't afford things have those things taken away from them. No wait, did I say unfair? I meant to say: the nature of capitalism at its core. It's time we moved to a different system where houses cost whatever you feel like paying any given month.
posted by jonson at 11:44 AM on March 18, 2008


The wikipedia page has a shot of Chaffey HS, which I lived next to when I was like 5.

Cool. Which tent?
posted by hal9k at 11:46 AM on March 18, 2008 [3 favorites]


The Inland Empire is suburban L.A. - so, in the big picture, it's close enough to use that term.


But how do you explain the plural? You did tell us that there were shantytowns in LA, didn't you?

I'm sure you'll come up with something.
posted by mr_roboto at 11:48 AM on March 18, 2008


I meant to say: the nature of capitalism at its core.

Capitalism actually has two cores. The other core is where big bankers who make bad decisions get funded by taxpayers.
posted by DU at 11:51 AM on March 18, 2008 [9 favorites]


Shruburbs.
I strongly encourage everyone to propagate this term as widely as you are able.
posted by Wolfdog at 11:53 AM on March 18, 2008 [3 favorites]


Yeah, right, Jonson, that 3 year old had it comin'! / sarcasm

And where do you expect the tent cities to be? On the front lawns of the repossessed houses?
posted by Brocktoon at 11:55 AM on March 18, 2008 [2 favorites]


Yes, jonson. The single intellectually conceivable alternative to our current economic system is a pie-in-the-sky glorified kindergarten where hugs are legal tender and kittens are part of the entitlement package.

I'm glad someone can think dialectically around here.
posted by dyoneo at 11:57 AM on March 18, 2008 [2 favorites]


Where are their shantytowns in LA? I see evidence of one tent city for the homeless outside of Ontario.
...
You would think someone who lives here would know the difference between "L.A." and Ontario

I take it neither of you has recently been around 5th and San Pedro in downtown? 'Cause, your snarkiness aside, it's essentially a permanent camp for homeless people. Thousands of homeless people.
posted by Justinian at 11:58 AM on March 18, 2008 [4 favorites]


I take it neither of you has recently been around 5th and San Pedro in downtown? 'Cause, your snarkiness aside, it's essentially a permanent camp for homeless people. Thousands of homeless people.

I don't think anyone is arguing that homelessness is not a problem in Southern California. It is, and has been for decades. It's certainly not caused by the subprime crisis, however, as the BBC and Mythmaker seem to be claiming. There were hundreds of homeless people on 5th and San Pedro when the market was booming, too.
posted by mr_roboto at 12:02 PM on March 18, 2008 [1 favorite]


Yeah, Justinian has it.
Old news.
posted by generalist at 12:03 PM on March 18, 2008


I meant mr_roboto has it.
posted by generalist at 12:04 PM on March 18, 2008


mr_roboto: I agree that it's not a result of the subprime crisis. But I think a comment like "Where are their (sic) shantytowns in LA? I see evidence of one tent city for the homeless outside of Ontario" is close enough for government work to denying the existence of permanent camps of homeless in LA.
posted by Justinian at 12:05 PM on March 18, 2008 [1 favorite]


Yeah, sorry. I was just being snarky because I found MythMaker's framing to be incredibly disingenuous.
posted by mr_roboto at 12:06 PM on March 18, 2008


I guess the big question really is - with foreclosure rates on the rise, and more and more people losing their homes, what's next? If the recession grows, and unemployment rises (I've certainly seen anecdotal underemployment with a lot of people I know out here), what happens to the people who lose their homes?

They move to the sewers, mutate, and come out at night to stalk and devour bloggers and household pets.

Look, we really don't know what happens next. Maybe everyone accepts that we're going to have to write off the last 10 years and be done with it, and by 2012 or so we're entering some new economic Silver Age. Maybe this cascades downward to the point we're staring at 40% unemployment and Californians heading for Oklahoma for work. Maybe human civilization comes to an end.

We don't know.

But taking a homeless camp, showing how some of the residents are there due to foreclosure, and then saying it's a "contemporary Hooverville" borders on axegrinding. Things are certainly bad out there, and they're going to get worse. But these sorts of tent cities and shantytowns existed in big cities during booms, and they'll exist even after we recover from the stagflation-recession-depression-end-of-civilization that we're in. People have always lived on the margins. They didn't just appear the moment that this bubble started to pop.

"Lalala, it's not happening. Lalala, it's not happening. And if it is happening, it's not happening in my neighborhood."

And that's not even close to what I'm saying. We had these camps in Seattle during 5-6 years of economic growth. They're still around even with our home prices remaining stable and foreclosures rising. This report suggests the camps just magically sprung up with the subprime crisis.

1/4 of the houses on my street are for sale. I've had friends turned away for mortgages despite stable jobs and good credit. There is a problem out there. It is happening. But coorelation != causation.
posted by dw at 12:07 PM on March 18, 2008


Well, I can understand the BBC's problem with geography. After all, they are in London, or as I like to call it, "Wales."
posted by malocchio at 12:08 PM on March 18, 2008 [6 favorites]


mr_roboto is totally right. MythMaker, instead of commenting again and again in defense of this poorly written article, you should at the very least acknowledge that you didn't do enough research into this matter before posting.
posted by redteam at 12:14 PM on March 18, 2008


“But these sorts of tent cities and shantytowns existed in big cities during booms, and they'll exist even after we recover from the stagflation-recession-depression-end-of-civilization that we're in.”

Y’know though, that sort of makes it worse. I mean your point - solid, I get it’s disingenuous. But meanwhile thick or thin, services to homeless folks still get shorted. That says a good deal.
Doesn’t seem to be the point of the piece. And it is irritating to see homeless folks get attention when politics the folks bringing the attention don’t like are going on. So, Obama gets in or Clinton or McCain - whomever - this just goes out of the spotlight?
And/or the hype on the economic situation ends - tent towns are no longer dramatic, so f’em?
Off on a tangent there. But y’know, just seems like homeles folks are a group routinely exploited by the media, politicians, whomever and then put back on the back burner whenever they become inconvenient again.
posted by Smedleyman at 12:22 PM on March 18, 2008 [2 favorites]


It's time we moved to a different system where houses cost whatever you feel like paying charging any given month.

FTFY
posted by trondant at 12:26 PM on March 18, 2008 [2 favorites]


I don't mean to be an ass -- my question is in earnest: if these people are getting by camping, what force or fiend convinced them that they required houses in the first place?

Don't get me wrong: if I had a child with a fever I'd prefer to keep them in a shelter as warm and dry as possible. And if I were a zillion years old I'd prefer to keep the damp at bay, so as not to trouble my aching bones. I comprehend the basic difference between temporary shelters and brick-and-mortar establishments.

Never the less, perhaps some of the issue here is these folks' perceptions of what constitutes a necessity. I mean, they ruined their financial lives in order to secure a house and now they're living and eating and working and breeding without said house. Wouldn't they have been better off to skip the house acquisition in the first place?

Being is a nomad isn't all bad.
posted by CheeseburgerBrown at 12:31 PM on March 18, 2008


Homeless is the new black.
posted by ethnomethodologist at 12:31 PM on March 18, 2008


Well, I can understand the BBC's problem with geography. After all, they are in London, or as I like to call it, "Wales."

I like to call it "California"

(Seriously, wtf? There are seventeen Londons on an undoubtedly non-exhaustive list I got from wikipedia - two in Alabama alone.)
posted by atrazine at 12:38 PM on March 18, 2008


Man, that was craptacular. That woman working one day a week was unlikely squeezed just by the subprime market. Like, where does it go from "I'm a financially upstanding enough citizen to qualify for a mortgage even when things are slack" to "I can't find rent money?"
posted by Ogre Lawless at 12:39 PM on March 18, 2008 [3 favorites]


Tent Cities Spring up in S.F.
posted by Nelson at 12:40 PM on March 18, 2008


Being is a nomad isn't all bad.

Of course not, and Southern California sure is the place to do it, climate wise (this is why Vancouver has such a high number of homeless people, only Canadian city of that size where the winters are survivable sans-shelter). The problem is that it cuts you off from normal society. Can you imagine trying to keep enough clothes for a normal life (especially the kind of clothing required for a decent job) clean, and unwrinkled while living in a tent?
posted by atrazine at 12:45 PM on March 18, 2008 [2 favorites]


Dem a loot, dem a shoot, dem a wail...
posted by DecemberBoy at 12:46 PM on March 18, 2008 [1 favorite]


jonson writes "It is unfair when people who can't afford things have those things taken away from them. No wait, did I say unfair? I meant to say: the nature of capitalism at its core. It's time we moved to a different system where houses cost whatever you feel like paying any given month."

What sort of lender will agree to a mortgage with a borrower who cannot afford the house? Well, when financial institutions are using high-risk mortgages to back other investments, and when institutions are snatching up such paper without regard to its actual value, then it creates a different sort of problem than just people who don't know how to live within their means. It creates a systemic problem that won't go away when the houses are foreclosed, because all that worthless paper comes crashing down on institutions like, oh, Bear Stearns, for instance, and all of their investors, and on and on it goes. The borrower of the house loan is just a small piece of the puzzle.
posted by krinklyfig at 12:49 PM on March 18, 2008 [1 favorite]


Well, if housing prices fall, I expect more people will be able to afford homes.
posted by mr_roboto at 2:43 PM on March 18 [+] [!]


Yeah, except for those that already bought one!

By the way, the Anacostia waterfront is still free in case we need to house the Iraq War Bonus Army.
posted by Pollomacho at 12:52 PM on March 18, 2008


To me, the video raised some interesting questions. I hadn't heard about this particular camp before, and the video frames it as being full of post-foreclosure homeless, which I found provocative, and thus posted it on the blue.

Seeing the video itself was the extent of the research I did, redteam. I wasn't writing a dissertation, I was interested in the discussion which this video would raise. By my way of thinking, instead of talking about what the future holds for the post-foreclosed, perhaps discussing what that does to their credit worthiness or ability to find a roof over their heads, etc., much of the discussion has been about whether the Inland Empire is L.A., and arguing that there are no post-foreclosure homeless living in tents.

I'm not justifying the BBC's framing - I don't care about their framing. I'm interested in the fact that post-foreclosure people are becoming homeless.

Whether it's one tent city or hundreds, it strikes me as being an important issue - losing your house to the bill collectors may end you up homeless.

I'm really not alone in being concerned about this.
posted by MythMaker at 12:52 PM on March 18, 2008


Being is a nomad isn't all bad.

Except for the fact that women heading homeless families tend to have greater instances of sexual violence perpetrated against them. But yeah, beyond that it's all gravy.
posted by The Straightener at 1:06 PM on March 18, 2008


Er...if someone had enough income to afford a mortgage, even a shifty subprime one, surely they could just rent a place?
posted by a young man in spats at 1:14 PM on March 18, 2008


Some facts on subprime mortgages. Although this probably would have been better linked to in an earlier post on this more specific topic.
posted by sfts2 at 1:19 PM on March 18, 2008


Er...if someone had enough income to afford a mortgage, even a shifty subprime one, surely they could just rent a place?

I suspect that a lot of this is much more closely linked to bankruptcies caused by medical bills and the demise of living-wage jobs than it is to foreclosures in and of themselves. But there's a constant drumbeat to prop up the bubble-inflated market rather than address the real issues that are causing the middle class to collapse.
posted by transona5 at 1:19 PM on March 18, 2008 [2 favorites]


CheeseburgerBrown - yeah, I know some guys who are ex-servicemen who live in the forest preserves out here (and easily evade the cops).
The matter is one of not having a choice tho.
Pretty easy to live that way at 25 so if you’re forced into it, you don’t mind so much. At 45, lugging a wife, kids, etc., you want to keep your options a bit more open.
And really it’s not a matter of the actual lack of a house that causes homelessness. Consider - where’s home? For some folks it’s where mom & dad live. For other’s maybe where you’re wife and kids are. For others maybe where your brother or sister is or nephew or a close friend or something. People typically say they’re “from Chicago” because that’s where their family still is.
Some people don’t have any of those ties (for whatever reason). They could be sheltered in the Taj Mahal, but they’re still homeless because they lack the social support that could otherwise help them with whatever problems they have being self-sustaining, avoiding predation, all that.
(That’s a very abridged version of course)
posted by Smedleyman at 1:25 PM on March 18, 2008


To me, the video raised some interesting questions.

I wouldn't worry about the snark. It's hard to get attention for the plight of the homeless. If you have to use the hook of the failure of the sub-prime market to raise a bit of consciousness out there, then go for it.

Can you imagine trying to keep enough clothes for a normal life (especially the kind of clothing required for a decent job) clean, and unwrinkled while living in a tent?

That was my dominant response to the film as well. When that woman was talking about how she hopes to get a job that will enable her to earn enough money to put some aside, in order to start getting together the wherewithall to find a permanent home, I couldn't help but wonder how the hell she was going to achieve that, given her circumstances?

She didn't appear to have much about her that would make her a desirable employee. She was getting on a bit, carrying a bit of extra weight. Likely she'd have a few health problems and her literacy would be poor. All of which closes down a lot of options to her. At best, she'd be looking at something minimum wage -- possibly cleaning or something. But even if she managed to find a job, managing to keep it while living in those conditions would require a herculean effort of will -- and the prospect of saving enough to be able to afford a security deposit and a first month or two's rent just looked ... I dunno, almost impossible.

And I contrasted it with what would be this woman's lot here in the UK. I mean, we complain about the level of benefits here, but they do at least cover your housing costs. And there's enough social housing available that a woman of that age would never have to sleep on the streets if she didn't choose to, even if that meant spending a period in some sort of shelter (which is communal housing where women have their own rooms, not the human warehouses you see in the USA) while she was waiting to be rehoused.

It's unlikely that anyone would expect someone in that situation to find work here, prior to their being properly housed. We know that it just isn't practicable.

So, you know, if I was an American, I'd be angry if I'd watched this film clip. I'd be angry about living in the richest country in the world, and how it makes so little provision for a safety net for it's most vulnerable. I'd feel humilated, when the rest of the world looked on and saw what an inhumane, inhospitable culture we'd created -- one that thinks nothing about bailing out the richest, while letting the poorest and most vulnerable go to the wall.

And I might even be tempted to shoot the messenger under those circumstances as well. Because, well, increasing foreclosures means that there's definitely going to be some growth in these camps over the next year or two, and who knows, there but for the Grace of God...

So yeah, fingers in the ears, la, la, la, la, LA, LA, LA! I CAN'T HEAR YOU! PLEASE GO AWAY!
posted by PeterMcDermott at 1:35 PM on March 18, 2008 [17 favorites]


Y’know though, that sort of makes it worse. I mean your point - solid, I get it’s disingenuous. But meanwhile thick or thin, services to homeless folks still get shorted. That says a good deal.

Absolutely. And the history of tent cities in Seattle, from the Hoovervilles where the stadiums are now to the roving Tent Cities of the last decade, has been a mix of anger and frustration on all sides. We want to help them, but then they might just mooch off us and spend their days panhandling, but if we ignore them, we're ignoring folks who want and need help.

My church has had a community dinner once a week that draws the homeless population of the neighborhoods. After a couple of years of having it, we started asking the hard questions -- why are they homeless, and what can we do to help those who want/need help. Eventually, the church budgeted a quarter-time social services director. That position is now full-time. She works the system to find people housing, health care, and psychiatric help. There's no obligation to join our church, but many do. It's a small drop in the big bucket of homelessness here, but we're trying.

And then last year a local columnist ripped on the church because we refused to help a guy. Some neighbors had given the guy an unheated but powered shack in their backyard to live in. Then they sold out with the stipulation that the new owners would need to find the guy new accommodations no later than 12 months after the sale. 11 1/2 months later, they tell the church to come move the shack off their property and he was our problem. We said no, and that had they approached us in the preceeding 11 1/2 months we could have gotten the guy an apartment and why didn't they talk to us sooner? So the new owners called the local paper and told a columnist just how un-Christian we were for not solving their "problem." This despite the years of trying to help the broader community. Eventually we hooked the guy into a larger social services agency who worked with the homeowners, but when you do all you can then get called callous because you won't do exactly what someone wants? A little annoying.

But I think that's the problem in a microcosm. We want the homeless to be out of our sight, and if they're in our sight we want them gone as soon as possible. Are we uncomfortable that they exist, or that we could be one of them?
posted by dw at 1:41 PM on March 18, 2008 [2 favorites]


Can you imagine trying to keep enough clothes for a normal life (especially the kind of clothing required for a decent job) clean, and unwrinkled while living in a tent?

I've seen it happen on a large scale in Osaka. Thousands of blue tarp tents through the park system and along the river, many with white button down shirts and trousers hanging out to dry nearby.
posted by tkolar at 1:49 PM on March 18, 2008


So the indians win in the end. Very Lao Tzu.
posted by srboisvert at 1:54 PM on March 18, 2008


Are we uncomfortable that they exist, or that we could be one of them?
posted by dw at 3:41 PM on March 18


Both, obviously.

We're ashamed of how we treat them, and how "we" allowed them to get that way in this great gilded society we live in. And, unless you are a member of the idle rich, you worry that it could one day happen to you.

You know, two threads that have really interested me the last few days are this one and the neo-local-farming thread.

Seems to me that a solution to both of these issues could be obvious.
posted by Ynoxas at 1:54 PM on March 18, 2008


Seems to me that a solution to both of these issues could be obvious.

Enslaving these folks and putting them to work on neo-plantations? Farming humans?
posted by Pollomacho at 2:15 PM on March 18, 2008


To those who keep citing existing tent cities (especially on the west coast) as evidence that this is old news:

Many of the residents of these more permanent tent cities are alcoholics, drug addicts, or mentally ill.

Not all, mind you. But a lot. (After Reagan cut the Federal funding for mental hospitals, state institutions shut their doors because they could not afford to keep them operating. This put most of America's mentally ill on the street. Granted, mental institutions are not peachy, but if you wonder why there are so many crazy folks on the street, this is the main reason why.)

My best friend works with homeless people on a daily basis full-time, M-F, and about 95% of the people she serves are either addicts or mentally ill. What struck me about this video was that the people they interviewed were portrayed as regular folks without enough money to rent or own a house.

This, to me, made their correlation scenario less far fetched. While it is not yet pandemic that these tent cities are cropping up due to foreclosure rates, the fact is that foreclosure rates ARE going up. Where would you live if your house was foreclosed on? With your parents? Friends? Extended Family? What if these networks failed you? Hotels? (SO EXPENSIVE) Shelters? (OVERCROWDED) Should we ignore this problem until we do have shantytowns all over the U.S.?

As PeterMcDermott said, "if I was an American, I'd be angry if I'd watched this film clip."

Well, as an American I am angry. And I firmly believe that no amount of snarking will put a roof over anyone's head. So: what shall I do? Vote a particular way? Write representatives? Take someone in? I'm still thinking about this.
posted by whimsicalnymph at 2:24 PM on March 18, 2008 [3 favorites]


It is unfair when people who can't afford things have those things taken away from them. No wait, did I say unfair? I meant to say: the nature of capitalism at its core. It's time we moved to a different system where houses cost whatever you feel like paying any given month.*

Instead of a system where houses cost whatever the lending system feels like charging in any given month?

*Payment not as advertised. Product not as advertised. Capitalism not as advertised.
posted by namespan at 2:53 PM on March 18, 2008


Did Scott Templeton write this?
posted by basicchannel at 2:56 PM on March 18, 2008


I've got sympathy for the plight of the homeless and I think more should be done about it - I think we ought to at least guarantee a livin'-at-the-YMCA bed-and-a-shower level of existence and more.

But it seems unlikely to me that this situation could really have been caused by the subprime mortgages crisis. Someone who has to go directly from owning a house to being homeless with no rental options in between has a sufficiently unstable financial situation (whether due to uncertain income or unwise spending) that this could have happened at any point.
posted by XMLicious at 3:06 PM on March 18, 2008 [1 favorite]


The snark that is here, and in the previous thread, is not because of the subject matter, or that the US denizens are responding with anger to large social problems when they are brought up, it is the disingenuous of the articles presented.

Given the constant stream of articles, and the constant attempts by people, commercial or not, to press forward their agendas, and outright lie to us at times. Metafilter is by it's nature, very media savy. A child of the Internet, no article is exempt from examinations of bias, exaggerations, and outright deception. And the greatest ire is given to causes we agree with, because they make the positions we have look bad.

So, no, this isn't a group of people sticking their fingers in their ears. It is a group of people who are extremely tired of being manipulated by the media, anyone's media, and resort to snark and cynicism almost instantly. The post was a single link to an hyperbolic flash video. And snark was not expected? If this were several links, some with first hand accounts, it would have gone differently.
posted by zabuni at 3:11 PM on March 18, 2008 [3 favorites]


So, you know, if I was an American, I'd be angry if I'd watched this film clip. I'd be angry about living in the richest country in the world, and how it makes so little provision for a safety net for it's most vulnerable. I'd feel humilated, when the rest of the world looked on and saw what an inhumane, inhospitable culture we'd created -- one that thinks nothing about bailing out the richest, while letting the poorest and most vulnerable go to the wall.

To be honest, comments like this piss me the hell off. Did YOU implement the superior public assistance in your country? Well, I didn't set up the public assistance in my country either. Where the fuck do you get off telling me how to feel?

I don't feel humiliated - I feel scared. Most of us are scared, because, despite what you might think, we don't have much control over what happens here. I don't own a home, I live paycheck to paycheck, I have shitty insurance, I'm 42 years old, and my government is fucking insane. If I had anything to do with it, yes, I'd be humiliated, but I didn't so I don't.

Take care of things on your side of the street, why don't you - I've got enough things to worry about without your input.
posted by The Light Fantastic at 3:20 PM on March 18, 2008


Take care of things on your side of the street, why don't you - I've got enough things to worry about without your input.

Huh. I had the exact same speech given to me (American) by four South African students (two black and two white) about Apartheid while staying in a Parisian hostel on December 20, 1989.

I was dragged into it not as someone who brought up the whole "End Apartheid" thing but rather as the representative American who happened to be in the room while people were annoyed with the U.S. I did try stand up for America's experience with the topic -- America had after all dismantled its own legal Apartheid, which gave it some moral standing to encourage others to do the same. And while the American race relations are still pretty rocky, looking back pretty much everyone agrees that it was worse with Segregation then it has been without.

After I spent some time defending the moral high ground the U.S. is sometimes capable of taking we adjourned to the lounge, where CNN informed us that George Bush the Senior had just staged a full scale invasion of Panama to arrest the country's leader.

Needless to say, beers were on me.
posted by tkolar at 3:38 PM on March 18, 2008 [1 favorite]


MythMaker, get back to us when all of these new slummers are being starved to death and begging for shit like shoes.

Comparing living conditions in Los Angeles (where I'm typing from, at the moment) to places in the world that have ACTUAL shantytowns and slums is less than ignorant - its just plain insulting.

And I don't mean to me, or anyone else rich enough to read this post, or even those rich enough to be living in the US, be it in a mansion or a Coleman.

Shit.
posted by allkindsoftime at 3:48 PM on March 18, 2008 [1 favorite]


At some point, people are going to realize, hey, we're living in tents here, and over there, are a whole bunch of empty houses.
posted by aeschenkarnos at 4:03 PM on March 18, 2008 [1 favorite]


Comparing living conditions in Los Angeles (where I'm typing from, at the moment) to places in the world that have ACTUAL shantytowns and slums is less than ignorant - its just plain insulting.

Definitely. We should wait until the US has become one of these before making a peep.
posted by transona5 at 4:06 PM on March 18, 2008 [1 favorite]


At some point, people are going to realize, hey, we're living in tents here, and over there, are a whole bunch of empty houses.

Or, as one of my friends put it the problem with telling a certain critical mass of people that they need to take care of their own interests is that sooner or later they're going to take that advice, and then society is fucked.
posted by Parasite Unseen at 4:24 PM on March 18, 2008 [1 favorite]


Nah.

Like other people here said, if this were a well-linked, well documented post, I'd be more inclined to believe it. For now it just looks like ratings grabbing, in everybody's favorite "look how bad things suck in ____ mold".
posted by saysthis at 4:48 PM on March 18, 2008


Actually, some homeless already are squatting in foreclosed houses.
posted by MythMaker at 5:09 PM on March 18, 2008


You know, all these clever comments, and not one highlighting that this is the U.S muthafukin' A. Best county in the world! Best healthcare! Best opportunity!

People are living in tents, and enough of them that someone though it relevant to bring up. I pass more beggars in NYC with families than in a long time. Not it's not a "statistically" relevant comment, well, neither of them are. But just because the facts on the ground are considered outliers now doesn't mean it's insignificant.

Sensationalist as this is, it should be a wake up call not to let thing get worse.
posted by digitalprimate at 5:32 PM on March 18, 2008 [1 favorite]


I bet they won't buy more house than they can afford again.
posted by Mr. President Dr. Steve Elvis America at 6:07 PM on March 18, 2008


Hey, check out these sunglasses I found.

Whoa, that's weird...
posted by Eideteker at 6:33 PM on March 18, 2008 [1 favorite]


It begins.
posted by monkee at 6:33 PM on March 18, 2008


Enslaving these folks and putting them to work on neo-plantations? Farming humans?
posted by Pollomacho at 4:15 PM on March 18


Umm... no.

Despite what the guy at the coffeehouse with the beret says, you can actually employ someone without enslaving them. I've seen it happen.

Small farms need lots of manual labor because they don't benefit from the monstrous machinery used on mega-farms.

They also have enough space to house a workforce.
posted by Ynoxas at 8:30 PM on March 18, 2008


San Bernardino county doesn't have the water for any more agriculture.
posted by mr_roboto at 9:48 AM on March 19, 2008


Eldeteker -
You read my mind.

OBEY!
posted by daq at 10:33 AM on March 19, 2008


daq, this has been floating around the 'net for awhile.
posted by Eideteker at 11:39 AM on March 19, 2008


*adds Eldeteker to his list of versions of his sobriquet*

Next is Eldertaker, caretaker for the elderly, I guess.

posted by Eideteker at 11:41 AM on March 19, 2008


@Shruburbs: Is Suburbia Turning Into Slumburbia?
posted by mrgrimm at 12:44 PM on March 19, 2008


CheeseburgerBrown writes "if these people are getting by camping, what force or fiend convinced them that they required houses in the first place?

"Don't get me wrong: if I had a child with a fever I'd prefer to keep them in a shelter as warm and dry as possible. And if I were a zillion years old I'd prefer to keep the damp at bay, so as not to trouble my aching bones. I comprehend the basic difference between temporary shelters and brick-and-mortar establishments.

"Never the less, perhaps some of the issue here is these folks' perceptions of what constitutes a necessity. I mean, they ruined their financial lives in order to secure a house and now they're living and eating and working and breeding without said house. Wouldn't they have been better off to skip the house acquisition in the first place?

"Being is a nomad isn't
all bad."

My first concern would be the public health aspects of shanty towns. At a minimum illegal tent cities tend to have poor sanitation and waste water facilities. It would be sad if these tent cities only got public attention after an outbreak of Typhoid or Cholera.

a young man in spats writes "Er...if someone had enough income to afford a mortgage, even a shifty subprime one, surely they could just rent a place?"

One of the ironic things about a downturn in housing pricies that causes foreclosures is the vacancy rate also delcines, at least initially. This is because a) banks are slow to rent houses that are in foreclosure, b) people who have been foreclosed start renting somewhere else, and c) those who haven't been foreclosed on yet are often seeking newly unrealistic rents in light of current house prices.
posted by Mitheral at 8:08 AM on March 22, 2008


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