U.S. 'Tent Cities,' Sharp Increase in Homelessness Ignored by Almost Everyone Except the BBC

Over at the Associated Press in a report with a Tuesday morning time stamp, Christopher Rugaber produced yet another predictable lemonade-from-lemons story about how the economy is allegedly "improving faster than economists had expected. They now foresee slightly stronger growth and hiring than they did two months earlier - trends that would help President Barack Obama's re-election hopes." Because, after all, that's what it's all about.

The folks at AP, the economists they surveyed for their report, and the rest of the establishment press really need to get out more. Y'know, they used to, at least before November 4, 2008. If they did, they'd find something which it seems only the BBC among major original-source news organizations has found: well over 50 "tent cities." These are not Occupy movement encampments; instead they are places where one will find America's desperately poor:


America's homeless resort to tent cities

... Tent cities have sprung up in and around at least 55 American cities - they represent the bleak reality of America's poverty crisis.

... 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.

... There are an estimated 5,000 people living in the dozens of camps that have sprung up across America

The largest camp, Pinella's Hope in central Florida - a region better known for the glamour of Disneyworld - is made up of neat rows of tents spread out across a 13-acre plot.

... The stark reality is that many of them are people who very recently lived comfortable middle-class lives

For them, the economic downturn came too fast and many have been forced to trade their middle-class homes for lives in shelters, motels and at the far extreme, tented encampments.

The BBC "Panorama" television program which formed the basis for the report I excerpted has many weak and ruthlessly biased segments and passages which I identified at my home blog last week. Almost despite itself, however it hammers home several things the U.S. media has chosen to totally ignore, and which I daresay it wouldn't ignore if anyone besides Barack Obama (even a Democrat) were president:

  • The observation that “Detroit looks worse than Beirut.” Too bad it makes no connection to over four decades of government “solutions” and unspeakable corruption which have brought the city to the brink. The commentator also says without somehow falling over laughing that “The President still believes the way forward is spending on social services and infrastructure” -- as if more of the same will work.
  • The information that homeless shelters in Southeast Michigan are referring those they won’t take in to Ann Arbor’s “tent city.” Seriously. Further: “It seems that tent city has become a semi-official dumping ground for the homeless here.” It goes on: “Panorama has established that public agency and overstretched shelters are referring the homeless to tent and encampments outside several other cities in America." This point should have made it into the text report, and didn't.
  • To its lasting credit, even after wasting time going after the new Republican administration in Michigan for somehow not doing enough to address the problems (if I recall correctly, no one working in the Obama administration was put on the hot seat), the Beeb delivered its most critical observation: “This is not the vision of America President Obama’s supporters were led to believe in.” No kidding.

Only a few outlets have taken note of the BBC's report or covered the "tent cities" development separately. A Google News search on ["tent cities" homeless ~Haiti] (typed exactly as indicated between brackets; "~Haiti" means that articles mentioning Haiti are excluded) returned 17 items.

Bigger picture, the only other publication I'm aware of which has reported on the deep poverty problem is Business Insider, which last August noted that "More than 700,000 people are currently homeless in the U.S. and the number has grown 20 percent from 2007 to 2010." Betcha haven't seen that stat anywhere else -- or these:

  • Total homelessness (chronic and those in “permanent supportive housing”) "increased by over 9% during the past two years."
  • Also, “The ‘doubled up’ population (people who live with friends, family or other nonrelatives for economic reasons) increased by 13 percent from 6 million in 2009 to 6.8 million in 2010."

If anyone else besides Barack Obama were president, we'd be hearing about "tent cities" constantly, and they would be referred to as "(President's Last Name)villes." But no one dares to write about "Obamavilles."

Instead, we get fantasies of "stronger" economic growth from the AP (defined as a pathetic 2.5% expected increase in this year's GDP, up from an apparently "strong" 1.7% in 2011), and "BB Who?"

Cross-posted at BizzyBlog.com.

Tom Blumer
Tom Blumer
Tom Blumer is a contributing editor for NewsBusters.