Tent Cities Still Spreading Across the U.S.
Here in Portland we’ve had a squatter settlement called Dignity Village since long before the financial crisis in 2008. It was joined by a new downtown settlement last year. But I haven’t been hearing much about the tent cities that have sprung up in Sacramento and elsewhere since 2008.
The BBC confirms that not only have these not gone away, but they have actually been growing:
Tent cities have sprung up in and around at least 55 American cities – they represent the bleak reality of America’s poverty crisis.
According to census data, 47 million Americans now live below the poverty line – the most in half a century – fuelled by several years of high unemployment.
One of the largest tented camps is in Florida and is now home to around 300 people. Others have sprung up in New Jersey and Portland.
BBC: America’s homeless resort to tent cities
Hong Kong’s rooftop shanty towns
In South America the slums are attached to the outskirts of mega-cities such as Caracas and Mexico City like wasps’ nests on a cliff face. In a hilly island city like Hong Kong, however, living space is limited. Here you only see the laboriously constructed huts made of corrugated iron and planks of wood in which the poorest of the poor live if you look upwards – they occupy, to put it in cynical terms, a penthouse location.
Daily Tonic: The Level Up
Kyoto’s student-run dormintory/squat
Actually, I don’t fully understand why they are called squatters if they pay rent and are authorized to live there. But the photos are cool.
Nearly a century old, and looking every day of it, Yoshida-ryo is very likely the last remaining example of the once common Japanese wooden university dormitory. This building was built in 1913. Organized from the very beginning to be self-administering through a dormitory association (????), the students themselves have been responsible for selecting new applicants for residency. This autonomy, however, came under full-scale assault in 1971, when the Ministry of Education began a policy of regulating or closing dormitories, which were seen as “hotbeds for various kinds of conflict.” University authorities first tried to close Yoshida-ryo completely in 1979, and after failing to overcome opposition over the next 10 years finally closed the Western Yoshida-ryo across the street.
With the death of Japan’s violent student activism, the campaign to close the dormitory subsided for a time, but in the aftermath of the 1995 Great Hanshin Earthquake there were new calls to replace the poorly aged building, which had already seen its maintenance neglected for decades by a university that had wanted to demolish it.
At present, the future of the dormitory is unclear.
CNNGO: Yoshida-ryo dormitory at Kyoto University
(via Arthur Magazine)
Fiji squatters repair their own road after damage made it unpassable
A key road into a squatter settlement in Suva in Fiji has just been paid for and fixed entirely by the people living along it.
Patterson Drive, an old disused roadway, has just been re-opened, with certification from Fiji’s Ministry of Works, Transport and Public Utilities.
Radio New Zealand: Fiji squatters repair their own road after damage made it unpassable
Luxury Condo Being Turned into Homeless Shelter
Instead of boarding up an unoccupied luxury condo in Crown Heights and letting it fall into disrepair, the owner has done the unthinkable: arranged to let homeless people live there. [...]
The city is paying about $2,700 a month for each apartment, which also covers social services like job counseling. Shriki says, “At least we still own the building and we are paying our mortgage, so that’s good. The outcome is not as bad as some people I know who had to surrender the whole building to the bank.”
Gothamist: Luxury Condo Being Turned into Homeless Shelter
Malaysian utilities cutting off electricity to squatters
Sabah Electricity Sdn Bhd (SESB) has stepped up efforts to curb Non-Revenue Electricity (NRE) by dismantling illegal connections from squatter colonies here.
Its enforcement unit saw hundreds of metres of illegal wires being seized during a three-day operation from Tuesday.
Daily Express: Power thefts in 12 KK squatter areas
Via Robert Neuwirth, who writes:
If the point is to get people to pay, to turn non-revenue into revenue, then why not work with the squatters to create a solution. It’s such a simple thing, really. Just a slight change in mindset. The South African group Abahlali baseMjondolo has demonstrated in a series of reports that ripping out electrical lines in shantytowns causes deaths, as people return to using candles and lighting fires. There’s a cost in lost revenue and a cost in human lives.
With Advocates’ Help, Squatters Call Foreclosures Home
Ms. Omega, 48, is one of the beneficiaries of the foreclosure crisis. Through a small advocacy group of local volunteers called Take Back the Land, she moved from a friend’s couch into a newly empty house that sold just a few years ago for more than $400,000.
Michael Stoops, executive director of the National Coalition for the Homeless, said about a dozen advocacy groups around the country were actively moving homeless people into vacant homes — some working in secret, others, like Take Back the Land, operating openly.
In addition to squatting, some advocacy groups have organized civil disobedience actions in which borrowers or renters refuse to leave homes after foreclosure.
The groups say that they have sometimes received support from neighbors and that beleaguered police departments have not aggressively gone after squatters.
New York Times: With Advocates’ Help, Squatters Call Foreclosures Home