Hoovervilles

Hoovervilles

From the NYT:

“As the operations manager of a outreach center for the homeless here, Paul Stack is used to seeing people down on their luck. What he had never seen before was people living in tents and lean-tos on the railroad lot across from the center.

“They just popped up about 18 months ago,” Mr. Stack said. “One day it was empty. The next day, there were people living there.”

Like a dozen or so other cities across the nation, Fresno is dealing with an unhappy deja vu: the arrival of modern-day Hoovervilles, illegal encampments of homeless people that are reminiscent, on a far smaller scale, of Depression-era shantytowns. (…)

The surging number of homeless people in Fresno, a city of 500,000 people, has been a surprise. City officials say they have three major encampments near downtown and smaller settlements along two highways. All told, as many 2,000 people are homeless here, according to Gregory Barfield, the city’s homeless prevention and policy manager, who said that drug use, prostitution and violence were all too common in the encampments.”

This is Guillermo Flores:

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“Guillermo Flores, 32, said he had looked for work in the fields and in fast food, but had found nothing. For the last eight months, he has collected cans, recycling them for $5 to $10 a day, and lived in a hand-built, three-room shack, a home that he takes pride in, with a door, clean sheets on his bed and a bowl full of fresh apples in his propane-powered kitchen area.”

And here’s Doug Brown:

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“Doug Brown, a freelance electrical engineer, moved to the shelter at Village of Hope in October after losing his job. He shares his tool shed with another person.”

The tool sheds are made available by a local non-profit. They’re those little prefab sheds, maybe 8×10 feet. I’m glad Doug Brown can stay in one. But I wish I didn’t have to read, about someone who has skills and is willing to work: “He shares his tool shed with another person.”