Tag Archives | Homelessness

Life In The California Desert’s Slab City

Reuters offers a hypnotic glimpse inside a desert community which blurs the line between homeless encampment and off-the-grid utopian commune. Populated by hippies, the blue collar elderly, and families with young children, it features a golf course, a 24-hour library, an internet cafe, and plenty of good times:

Somewhere on the edge of reality is this place. A former military base that was closed after World War II, Slab City is a place on the fringe both geographically and philosophically. It attracts a variety of people, including jobless and financially struggling recession refugees who can no longer pay for food and housing.

slabcity

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Top Foreclosure Firm’s Homelessness-Themed Halloween Party

homelesssqSometimes Halloween costume choice can offer an interesting window into people’s mindsets. Via the New York Times:

The law firm of Steven J. Baum, which is located near Buffalo, is what is commonly referred to as a “foreclosure mill” firm, meaning it represents banks and mortgage servicers as they attempt to foreclose on homeowners and evict them from their homes. Steven J. Baum is, in fact, the largest such firm in New York; it represents virtually all the giant mortgage lenders, including Citigroup, JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America and Wells Fargo.

A former employee recently sent me snapshots of last year’s party. In an e-mail, she said that she wanted me to see them because they showed an appalling lack of compassion toward the homeowners — invariably poor and down on their luck — that the Baum firm had brought foreclosure proceedings against. When we spoke later, she added that the snapshots are an accurate representation of the firm’s mind-set.

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Throw Them Out With the Trash: Why Homelessness Is Becoming an Occupy Wall Street Issue

Homeless ChildrenBarbara Ehrenreich writes on TomDispatch:

What the Occupy Wall Streeters are beginning to discover, and homeless people have known all along, is that most ordinary, biologically necessary activities are illegal when performed in American streets — not just peeing, but sitting, lying down, and sleeping. While the laws vary from city to city, one of the harshest is in Sarasota, Florida, which passed an ordinance in 2005 that makes it illegal to “engage in digging or earth-breaking activities” — that is, to build a latrine — cook, make a fire, or be asleep and “when awakened state that he or she has no other place to live.”

It is illegal, in other words, to be homeless or live outdoors for any other reason. It should be noted, though, that there are no laws requiring cities to provide food, shelter, or restrooms for their indigent citizens.

The current prohibition on homelessness began to take shape in the 1980s, along with the ferocious growth of the financial industry (Wall Street and all its tributaries throughout the nation).

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Britain’s Assault On Squatters

squatter-rights-5There are hundreds of thousands of empty properties in the UK – 650,000 in England alone. We should be seizing empty properties and giving them to people who need them, not locking up people for wanting a place to live.

People are broke and evicted. Meanwhile, countless homes sit unused and empty, or abandoned…some people take matters into their own hands and live as squatters. But now the outraged authorities are fighting back against the squatter scourge, the UK’s New Left Project writes:

The traditional view that the Tories are the party of the landed classes was built on solid bedrock. The last time they were in power they orchestrated the largest land-grab in living memory – the ‘right to buy’ – through which council housing passed to property magnates and buy-to-let landlords. This time around, spurred on by misleading articles in the right-wing media, they’ve announced plans to make squatting illegal and to allow landlords to forcibly evict people – whether squatters or tenant – backed up by the iron fist of the law.

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Squatters Take Over 45-Story ‘Tower of David’ in Venezuela

Could you ask for a more poetic sign of the times? Simon Romero and Maria Eugenia Diaz report from Caracas, Venezuela, for the New York Times:

Architects still call the 45-story skyscraper the Tower of David, after David Brillembourg, the brash financier who built it in the 1990s. The helicopter landing pad on its roof remains intact, a reminder of the airborne limousines that were once supposed to drop bankers off for work.

View of Caracas taken from Mount Avila by Gloria Rodríguez (CC)

View of Caracas taken from Mount Avila by Gloria Rodríguez (CC)

The office tower, one of Latin America’s tallest skyscrapers, was meant to be an emblem of Venezuela’s entrepreneurial mettle. But that era is gone. Now, with more than 2,500 squatters making it their home, the building symbolizes something else entirely in this city’s center.

The squatters live in the uncompleted high-rise, which lacks several basic amenities like an elevator. The smell of untreated sewage permeates the corridors.

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The Tunnel People Beneath Las Vegas

tubesThe Daily Mail claims that 1,000 people live underground in the flood tunnels beneath the city of Las Vegas. While tourists and the rich flock to palace-like casinos, the tunnel people live below in darkness, amongst poisonous spiders and individuals with names like The Troll.

Deep beneath Vegas’s glittering lights lies a sinister labyrinth inhabited by poisonous spiders and a man nicknamed The Troll who wields an iron bar.

But astonishingly, the 200 miles of flood tunnels are also home to 1,000 people who eke out a living in the strip’s dark underbelly.

Some, like Steven and his girlfriend Kathryn, have furnished their home with considerable care – their 400sq ft “bungalow” boasts a double bed, a wardrobe and even a bookshelf. They have been there for five years, fashioning a shower out of a water cooler, hanging paintings on the walls and collating a library from abandoned books. Steven was forced into the tunnels three years ago after his heroin addiction led to him losing his job.

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I’m Homeless and This Is Why I Have an iPad

Image: Sam Spratt / Gizmodo

Image: Sam Spratt / Gizmodo

This is really interesting, it’s not what you’d expect. Homeless in Paris writes on Gizmodo:

I’m homeless, very homeless, dirt broke and all, but I still own an iPad and a MSI Wind u130 netbook. These, I feel, are essential tools … Being without a home is not that big a deal in today’s world, but having connections to the rest of the world is pretty important.

Choice: I am homeless by choice, I gave away and sold all my belongings in Los Angeles and moved to Paris. My tourist visa is expired. I’m definitely not allowed to be here, but I still work when I want, and tend to pretty much live the life of Riley. But when I need to get in contact with someone, from a friend to the Paris transportation authority to complain about a misfared ticket, it’s hard to work without McDonald’s Wi-Fi.

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