Education News: Economic Crisis Devastates Rich & Poor  - Tent Cities in America


19 March 2010: Updated 15 October 2011

Contact: Stephen M. Apatow
Founder, Director of Research & Development
Humanitarian Resource Institute
Humanitarian University Consortium Graduate Studies
Center for Medicine, Veterinary Medicine & Law
Phone: 203-668-0282
Email: s.m.apatow@humanitarian.net
Internet: www.humanitarian.net

Founder, United Nations Arts Initiative
Arts Integration Into Education
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Economic Crisis Devastates Rich & Poor  - Tent Cities in America

Despite claims of a recovery, states and municipalities remain in a state of economic emergency, that began with the collapse of the housing market in 2007. Larry Summers, White House Chief Economic Advisor describes the current landscape as a "Statistical Recovery and Human Recession." [1]

Normally the poor and impoverished represent the most severely impacted populations in a recession, but today's economic emergency has also devastated middle and upper class Americans:
  • Two market crashes: 2001-2002 and 2008, with severe damage to life savings and retirement accounts. [2]
  • The elimination of regulatory oversight on the merged commercial/investment banking industry facilitated widespread predatory lending, mortgage and appraisal fraud. To date, upwards of 6 million victims have lost their homes to foreclosure, [3] with 7-9 million additional mortgages in the pipeline, eligible for modification, according to the HopeNow Program. [4]
  • 17.3% real unemployment/underemployment [5] is not expected to stabilize until 2015, [6] the projected time for recovery of the US housing market. [7]
  • Small businesses and the self employed continue to struggle without assistance or economic relief. While the U.S. unemployment rate finally dipped below 10 percent in January, construction industry unemployment actually jumped to 25 percent (The Toolbelt Recession). [8]
The current economic landscape has been compared to an economic Katrina, without a disaster declaration.  The Humanitarian Resource Institute "UNArts National Service Initiative" is advancing a national campaign that targets unmet needs analysis on the household, small business, nonprofit and corporate level in every U.S. city.  Unmet needs reports, strategic planning and relief assistance is the priority for the duration of this economic emergency.

The "UNArts National Service Initiative" provides a unique opportunity for members of the arts and entertainment industry to serve as facilitators on the grassroots level. Community meetings, press conferences, concerts and performances provide a platform for the executive directors of frontline service programs, to "Bridge Unmet Needs to Untapped Resources."  The campaign is being led by Stephen Michael Apatow, [9] founder of Humanitarian Resource Institute and the United Nations Arts Initiative who is also an artist/publisher in the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP) and artist member of the Country Music Association.

On The Front Line

Click here for a demographic needs overview by Zip Code.  Includes: Statistical Brief, Food insecurity rate, Child food insecurity rate, Population, Poverty rate, Child poverty rate, Unemployment rate and listing for food banks.

Tent Cities In America

Tent Cities in America:
A Pacific Coast Report
National Coalition for the Homeless [10]

American’s Great Depression was greatly defined by the newly homeless and their creation of tent cities. As the homeless gathered in shanty towns they began calling them Hooverville’s, after the sitting president, Herbert Hoover. Unemployment grew, rural communities collapsed, industrial cities were economically shaken and both small and large businesses failed, as millions more Americans became homeless for the first time.

Currently, the United States is experiencing the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression and its associated social ills are similar. Americans are once again experiencing a significant growth in poverty and double digit increases in their newly homeless. Just as during the Great Depression, temporary housing has begun to dot the national landscape, from coast to coast. Tent cities can now be found across the United States, ranging from large organized communities to makeshift encampments. This is not to say that tent cities have not remained on America’s landscape since the 1930s, but due to the current recession, there has been a rise in homelessness, and tent cities have received more media attention.

Since the Great Depression, Americans have tried unsuccessfully to cure the social ill of modern homelessness by treating its symptoms rather than its causes. A severe lack of affordable housing and a scarceness of jobs that pay a living wage are the root causes of homelessness. But, failing a final solution-based strategy to ending homelessness, we are now assigning rank-and-resources within a hierarchy of needs and conditions, measured along a compassion scale of those who are deserving, less deserving and undeserving.

Los Angeles estimates that 1,534 people live in homeless encampments. Sacramento estimates that roughly 900 single adults and 100 families are living in tent cities. Nashville and Des Moines each has approximately 200-250 people living in tent cities. Providence has one tent city with roughly 30 single adults. Seattle has one city-sanctioned tent city with 100 beds. [11]

Regarding the size and scope of the homelessness in the United States:

Homeless Veterans: The National Coalition for the Homless estimates that 150,000 veterans are homeless on any night and 600,000 will experience homelessness during the course of the year. [12]  The VA estimates that 131,000 veterans are homeless on any given night. And approximately twice that many experience homelessness over the course of a year. Conservatively, one out of every three homeless men who is sleeping in a doorway, alley or box in our cities and rural communities has put on a uniform and served this country. The vast majority are single, most come from poor, disadvantaged communities, 45 percent suffer from mental illness, and half have substance abuse problems. America’s homeless veterans have served in World War II, Korean War, Cold War, Vietnam War, Grenada, Panama, Lebanon, Operation Enduring Freedom (Afghanistan), Operation Iraqi Freedom, or the military's anti-drug cultivation efforts in South America. 47 percent of homeless veterans served during the Vietnam Era. [13,14]

1.35 Million children are homeless during the year, 200,000 on any given day. [12]

Between 1.6 and 2.8 million youth run away in a year. [15]  Many of these children are lured into prostitution. [16] Runaway, thrownaway and other homeless American children who use 'survival sex' to acquire food, shelter, clothing and other things needed to survive on America's streets. [17]

The National Coalition for the Homeless believes that now is the time that we, as a country, must embark on a final campaign to Bring America Home and end homelessness once and for all; through a coordinated and comprehensive national response that addresses the housing, income, healthcare, civil rights, and causal factors and consequences of extreme poverty.

Organizations in The Spotlight
  • FeedingAmerica.org: Formerly known as the Second Harvest Foodbank Network. Access to Food Banks and Statistical information can be accessed by zip code or state.  
  • HungerActionCenter.org: Advocacy support.
  • NationalHomeless.org National Coalition for the Homeless.
  • ConsumerLaw.org: National Consumer law Center.

Inspiration, Healing & Recovery

United Nations Arts Initiative
Url: www.unarts.org


1. Summers: ‘Statistical Recovery and Human Recession’- Davos Live - Wall Street Journal. Url: http://blogs.wsj.com/davos/2010/01/30/summers-statistical-recovery-and-human-recession/tab/article/
2.  Bogle/Stiglitz: Economic Crisis Dialogue: Humanitarian Resource Institute, 5 March 2010. AIIE: "The Eagle Will Rise," Harvard Law Record. Url: http://www.unarts.org/news/aiie_ecd352010.html
3. Yes, Regulators Can Stop Foreclosures: The Nation, 10 December 2009.  Url: http://www.thenation.com/doc/20091221/kaufmann
4. HopeNow: Url: https://www.hopenow.com
5. Broader U-6 Unemployment Rate Increases to 17.3% in December, Wall Street Journal Blog. 8 January 2010. Url: http://blogs.wsj.com/economics/2010/01/08/broader-u-6-unemployment-rate-increases-to-173-in-december/
6. Obama Advisers Predict High Unemployment, Low Growth for Next Five Years: Daily Finance. 12 February 2010. Url: http://www.dailyfinance.com/story/obamas-economic-advisers-high-unemployment-moderate-growth-fo/19356653/
7. Latest Housing Recovery Prediction: 2015: Wall Street Journal, 13 May 2009. Url: http://blogs.wsj.com/developments/2009/05/13/latest-housing-recovery-prediction-2015/tab/article/
8. Taking on the Tool Belt Recession: Center for American Progress. 3 March 2010. Url: http://www.americanprogress.org/issues/2010/03/tool_belt_recession.html
9. Stephen Michael Apatow: Founder: Humanitarian Resource Institute, United Nations Arts Initiative, Pathobiologics International. Url: http://www.apatow.org
10. Tent Cities in America: A Pacific Coast Report: National Coalition for the Homeless. Url: http://nationalhomeless.org/publications/Tent%20Cities%20Report%20FINAL%203-10-10.pdf

11. U.S. Conference of Mayors 2009 Status Report on Hunger & Homelessness: Url: http://usmayors.org/pressreleases/uploads/USCMHungercompleteWEB2009.pdf
12. National Coalition for the Homless: Url: http://www.nationalhomeless.org/
13. National Coalition for Homeless Veterans: Url: http://www.nchv.org/
14. National Community Support for Armed Forces and Wounded Warrior Project: Humanitarian Resource Institute, 27 July 2009.  Url: http://www.unarts.org/news/woundedwarriors_7272009.html
15. National Runaway Swithboard: Url: http://www.nrscrisisline.org/
16. Running in the Shadows: A two-part article and video series in the New York Times on the growing number of young runaways in the United States. Url: http://www.1800runaway.org/media/nrs_in_news.html#NYTimesOct2009
17. Commercial Child Sexual Exploitation: "The Most Hidden Form of Child Abuse," Says NASW Member Richard Estes: National Association of Social Workers. Url: http://www.naswdc.org/pressroom/2001/091001.asp


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