Established 2005 Registered Charity No. 1110656

Scottish Charity Register No. SC043760

current issue

June – July 2024 : Reflections READ ONLINE


Tent cities - update 2

September 08 2010
More and more ‘Obamaville‘settlements are springing up

Back in the April issue of The Pavement (London and Scotland), we brought you news of a report, Tent Cities in America: A Pacific Coast Report, by US charity The National Coalition for the Homeless, that reveals the growing emergence of tent cities across the west coast of America.

We discovered that the majority of tent cities were in California and that as the US continues to react to its biggest financial crisis since the Great Depression, homeless groups and government agencies are witnessing the biggest increase in homeless encampments for a generation.

Just a few months on, and tent cities are not only emerging further afield than the west coast, but "springing up in President Obama's own Hawaii backyard," as WorldNetDaily puts it.

One such case is a tent city that appeared on 50 acres of Navy and city land directly behind Waipahu High School. Named Obamaville (in part because of its location but also because it is reminiscent of the 'Hoovervilles' of the 1930s), it is suggested that the camp behind the school may be just one of many.

According to the Honolulu Star Advertiser, Doran Porter, the executive director of the Affordable Housing and Homeless Alliance, believes that more and more homeless encampments like Obamaville are springing up in Oahu as the Honolulu police and city officials drive the homeless off the island's beaches and out of city parks.

Back in the north-west mainland, in Olympia, Washington, the News Tribune reports that a three-year-old tent city that moves every 90 days is trying to secure a permanent site with the help of the Panza board, the not-for-profit organisation which supports the camp.

"The vision is to build 30 one-room cottages, with a central building for laundry, showers and meetings" said Jill Severn of the Panza board. Dubbed Quixote Village, it would be eco-friendly, with community gardens and plenty of trees, says the News Tribune. The vision has gained the support of the Thurston County Commission and the Olympia City Council. Last week, the council agreed to have its staff study finding a permanent site for the camp.

Residents say a permanent camp would give them stability, and they could grow their own food. "Once you have a place where you're going to lay your head every night, everything comes into focus," said Brenda Brooks, 35. She came to the camp after going through a divorce, being hospitalised for mental illness and losing her three children.

Elsewhere, in the city of Camden, New Jersey, a tent city facing eviction and relocation by the government came under the philanthropic focus of another not-for-profit organization, the Nehemiah Group, according to the Associated Press.

A local, wealthy entrepreneur and founder of the Nehemiah Group raised $250,000 (161,000) after his son brought to his attention the basic living conditions of the people occupying the tent city. Fifty people were relocated to a facility in Bridgeton, where they would stay for 21 days. After that they would occupy several rented homes and condominiums around Camden.