Hooverville was the popular name for shanty towns built by homeless people during the (first) Great Depression. They were named after the President of the United States at the time, Herbert Hoover, because he was blamed for letting America slide into depression. The term was coined by Charles Michelson, publicity chief of the Democratic National Committee.
Now, in another sign that we are in a second Great Depression, tent cities have returned.
Across America, there are Obamavilles in Seattle, Washington; Oregon (Dignity Village); Sacramento, California; San Diego, California; Reno, Nevada; Sierra Vista, Arizona; St. Petersburg, Florida; Huntsville, Alabama; Athens, Georgia; Nashville & Chattanooga, Tennessee; Columbus, Ohio; Ann Arbor, Michigan; Providence, Rhode Island; Lowell, Massachusetts; and Lakewood, New Jersey.
Below are excerpts from Robert Johnson’s Sept. 8, 2011 article for Business Insider, on the Obamaville in the woods outside Lakewood, NJ:
Tent City made the news recently after Lakewood City Council members saw the shelters on TV and sent demolition crews in. The walls were torn down around whatever was inside, and meager furnishings were left to the elements.
Tent City’s leader Rev. Steven Brigham says he’s been battling with the city for years to have access to the public land. He found New Jersey lawyer Jeff Wild to represent his case pro bono. Wild argued that the homeless population are part of the public and should therefore have access to public lands. Rather than take the case to court, Lakewood City Council settled, and Brigham signed an agreement to put up no more shelters and allow no more than 70 people to stay.
Brigham, a high-voltage electrical contractor on the bridges and tunnels around New York, started the camp five years ago. He says more people show up every year. Some stay, some find part-time work where they can, move on, and wind up coming back. Brigham explains, “There’s a real glut of low-skilled manual labor in the area. There’s just nothing for people to do.”
Here are some pics of New Jersey’s Obamaville, taken by Robert Johnson:
More pics here
At the same time as thieves defraud America’s welfare system, buying whole lobsters with food stamps and using welfare ATM cards for gambling and cruises, there are those genuinely in need who are falling through the cracks.
More than 700,000 people are currently homeless in the U.S. and the number has grown 20% from 2007 to 2010.