Living in a tent should be by choice

posted Wednesday May 18, 2011 4:11 pm 0 replies to this article In Need

Once or twice a week, Erica  and hundreds of others are forced to pack up everything they own and move their homes. They don't do this because they want to - they do it because there are local laws that the police enforce. This is what happens when you are homeless and have no choice but to live in a tent.

Homelessness and poverty are linked. Living is expensive - housing, food, childcare, health care, and education. When you don't have much money you are forced to make difficult choices deciding which necessities are the most important. Keeping a roof over your head is expensive especially when it take most of one or two paychecks. If you are poor, you are essentially an illness, an accident, or a paycheck away from living on the streets.

With the economy's collapse tent cities have sprung up around the country. A Google search quickly turns up many articles such as this, this, and this. Tent cities sprung up so quickly because of the collapse that even Oprah covered the story with a special report (video).

Getting back to Erica who lives in Hawaii, a place sold as paradise but where the local laws are largely shaped by the tourism industry. Erica lives in a cluster of tents with other working poor just three blocks from downtown Honolulu. Not able to afford housing where she was born and raised, Erica camps out one block from the oceanfront, with no access to water or bathroom. Erica and others are made to "move on" at least once a week by the police. They rotate between 3-4 places in a half mile radius which amounts to switching with other "tent people" to satisfy the police's request that individuals not have permanent dwellings.

The tourism industry's thinking is simple - It is easier to sell paradise when poverty is hidden from the vacation photos.




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