America Has Now Become a Nation of Tent Cities

Homelessness and hunger are spreading across America, according to a new survey. America’s homeless are not just the mentally ill or drug addicts. They are college graduates, veterans returning from the war, and middle class families who have fallen on hard times.

U.S. cities like Greenville, S.C. are experiencing rapid growth of new homeless communities forming as the economy takes another downturn. Those who cannot find new homes can find shelter in a “Tent City,” a community of homeless people who live in tents and makeshift homes made from tarps.  These new “tribes” can be found throughout the city, under bridges and in nearby woods. For many, Tent Cities have become America’s new norm.

Lyn Riddle from the Greenville News writes, “They end up on the street because there are not enough beds in shelters or apartments for transitional housing, the bridge that takes someone from the street to permanent housing. Jobs for unskilled workers don’t pay enough to support a family, to make a rent payment. They don’t get treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder caused by war or for mental disabilities they are born with.”

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A local group recently visited Greenville’s Tent City to help the residents prepare for the winter.  Someone asked a member, who was called “Lt. Governor,” what they could do to help.  “Give me a job,” said the Army veteran.  The man explained that several years back he was in the Army where he learned to cook. He came back home from the war and worked in the same restaurant for years as a cook, but after the restaurant went bankrupt he was out of work. He later lost his wife to sickness, and he was broke, alone and unable to find work. He said he wasn’t sad or bitter; he just wanted to work to “feel like a man again.”

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I spoke to Brooks Agnew at a Tent City fundraiser and asked him about his thoughts on the plight of the homeless.

“There is just no room for them anymore. Whoever is in charge has spent all the money that would finance the companies who could put these people to work. While the dogs are fighting for the media pork chop in Washington about who is going to be the first one to extend unemployment benefits for the next 6 months, they can spend the same money to give to these small businesses to put these people back to work,” said Agnew.

Americans are wondering when the government will put America first again. U.S. gives over $50 Billion dollars a year to countries all over the world in foreign aid. Yet, veterans are coming home from wars with serious physical and mental challenges only to find that the VA cannot help them. According to CNN, every day, 22 veterans take their own lives. That’s a suicide every 65 minutes.

Many veterans cannot find work and are forced on the streets, but they find refuge in the Tent Cities and from the kindness of the local community.

Robin, a concerned Greenville resident, told me, “I really feel that this country owes veterans so much. There shouldn’t be one veteran who needs to look for a job or should live in Tent City.”

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