Dwelling: Tent Cities

Chanel and I are currently in the midst of decorating our abodes, albeit in different cities. Chanel is of course in Brooklyn and I am in Washington, D.C. I think that the best part of moving into a new place is the opportunity to decorate it according to your likes and interests. The bare walls of a home are really like a plain canvas waiting to be worked on. Maya Angelou once said, "I long, as does every human being, to be at home wherever I find myself."  There are people who find themselves in a single-family home, townhouse, condo, or apartment. There are also those who find themselves in a tent. To most people a tent is an item only needed for that one week during the summer where they are dragged into the woods with promises of s'mores by loved ones. However, with 44% of people currently experiencing homelessness in America tent cities have become somewhat of a last resort for unsheltered Americans in need of affordable and accessible housing. You cannot hang picture frames on the sides of a tent, or install recess lighting, but a tent is still a home in which mouths are fed, and heads lay down to sleep. "The idea of someone living in a tent (or other encampment) in this country says little about the decisions made by those who dwell within and so much more about our nation's inability to adequately respond to those in need", stated Neil Donovan, director of The National Coalition for the Homeless. The National Coalition for the Homeless is undertaking a new project to document the tent city phenomenon across America. Unfortunately, this so-called phenomenon is nothing new. During the Great Depression the housing crisis that accompanied the employment crisis of the early 1930s brought about "Hoovervilles" which were a politicized term used to describes the countless shanktowns and homeless emcampments that were sprouting up across the country. The largest and longest-lasting "Hooverville"  was in Seattle, WA and stood from 1931-1941. The fact that so many Americans currently live in tent cities certainly puts my home decor aspirations into a better perspective. There are things more important than trying to find just the right accent rug for my reading nook. Click here to view Lisa Ling's Report on Tent Cities.

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