START A PETITION 25,136,189 members: the world's largest community for good
START A PETITION
x
Group Discussions
label:  
  Blue Label
| track thread
« Back to topics
Tent city in suburbs is cost of nation's foreclosure crisis
7 years ago
| Blue Label
http://tinyurl.com/2yszcw Saturday, December 22, 2007 By Dana Ford Fri Dec 21, 8:18 AM ET Between railroad tracks and beneath the roar of departing planes sits "tent city," a terminus for homeless people. It is not, as might be expected, in a blighted city center, but in the once-booming suburbia of Southern California. The noisy, dusty camp sprang up in July with 20 residents and now numbers 200 people, including several children, growing as this region east of Los Angeles has been hit by the U.S. housing crisis. The unraveling of the region known as the Inland Empire reads like a 21st century version of "The Grapes of Wrath," John Steinbeck's novel about families driven from their lands by the Great Depression. As more families throw in the towel and head to foreclosure here and across the nation, the social costs of collapse are adding up in the form of higher rates of homelessness, crime and even disease. While no current residents claim to be victims of foreclosure, all agree that tent city is a symptom of the wider economic downturn. And it's just a matter of time before foreclosed families end up at tent city, local housing experts say. "They don't hit the streets immediately," said activist Jane Mercer. Most families can find transitional housing in a motel or with friends before turning to charity or the streets. "They only hit tent city when they really bottom out." Steve, 50, who declined to give his last name, moved to tent city four months ago. He gets social security payments, but cannot work and said rents are too high. "House prices are going down, but the rentals are sky-high," said Steve. "If it wasn't for here, I wouldn't have a place to go." 'SQUATTING IN VACANT HOUSES' Nationally, foreclosures are at an all-time high. Filings are up nearly 100 percent from a year ago, according to the data firm RealtyTrac. Officials say that as many as half a million people could lose their homes as adjustable mortgage rates rise over the next two years. California ranks second in the nation for foreclosure filings -- one per 88 households last quarter. Within California, San Bernardino county in the Inland Empire is worse -- one filing for every 43 households, according to RealtyTrac. Maryanne Hernandez bought her dream house in San Bernardino in 2003 and now risks losing it after falling four months behind on mortgage payments. "It's not just us. It's all over," said Hernandez, who lives in a neighborhood where most families are struggling to meet payments and many have lost their homes. She has noticed an increase in crime since the foreclosures started. Her house was robbed, her kids' bikes were stolen and she worries about what type of message empty houses send. The pattern is cropping up in communities across the country, like Cleveland, Ohio, where Mark Wiseman, director of the Cuyahoga County Foreclosure Prevention Program, said there are entire blocks of homes in Cleveland where 60 or 70 percent of houses are boarded up. "I don't think there are enough police to go after criminals holed up in those houses, squatting or doing drug deals or whatever," Wiseman said. "And it's not just a problem of a neighborhood filled with people squatting in the vacant houses, it's the people left behind, who have to worry about people taking siding off your home or breaking into your house while you're sleeping." Health risks are also on the rise. All those empty swimming pools in California's Inland Empire have become breeding grounds for mosquitoes, which can transmit the sometimes deadly West Nile virus, Riverside County officials say. 'TRICKLE-DOWN EFFECT' But it is not just homeowners who are hit by the foreclosure wave. People who rent now find themselves in a tighter, more expensive market as demand rises from families who lost homes, said Jean Beil, senior vice president for programs and services at Catholic Charities USA. "Folks who would have been in a house before are now in an apartment and folks that would have been in an apartment, now can't afford it," said Beil. "It has a trickle-down effect." For cities, foreclosures can trigger a range of short-term costs, like added policing, inspection and code enforcement. These expenses can be significant, said Lt. Scott Patterson with the San Bernardino Police Department, but the larger concern is that vacant properties lower home values and in the long-run, decrease tax revenues. And it all comes at a time when municipalities are ill-equipped to respond. High foreclosure rates and declining home values are sapping property tax revenues, a key source of local funding to tackle such problems. Earlier this month, U.S. President George W. Bush rolled out a plan to slow foreclosures by freezing the interest rates on some loans. But for many in these parts, the intervention is too little and too late. Ken Sawa, CEO of Catholic Charities in San Bernardino and Riverside counties, said his organization is overwhelmed and ill-equipped to handle the volume of people seeking help. "We feel helpless," said Sawa. "Obviously, it's a local problem because it's in our backyard, but the solution is not local." (Additional reporting by Andrea Hopkins in Ohio; Editing by Mary Milliken and Eddie Evans) Posted by CRIMES AND CORRUPTION OF THE NEW WORLD ORDER NEWS mparent7777 Marc Parent CCNWON at 10:12 AM Labels: economy, foreclosures, housing, poor, poverty *fair use*
7 years ago
Harmony, this is where I live- the Inland Empire!  It is actually a very large area.  San Bernardino and Riverside are very big cities, though less well known that Los Angeles and San Diego.  Riverside County is bigger than San Diego County (and is inland between the two better known coastal cities.) 

San Bernardino is smaller than San Diego, but still quite big.  It is very hostile toward the homeless.  San Bernardino boasts of one police officer (a woman) who "serves" the homeless population single-handedly. 

From what I've read, the main way she "serves" the homeless is to search for their bedding and confiscate it.  Anyway, that's what they showed in the video footage that was boasting about her "caring" service of the homeless. 

They also talked about how she gives the homeless people she meets up with a choice between being transported to the city shelter or the police station.  Nice "caring" lady!  I wonder what she does with the bedding and if the homeless ever get it back???

Isn't it sad to see the whole long wave of consequences of lender greed?  I really do see lender greed as the whole cause of this tide of human disasters.  They left open the option of raising people's payments, but did not say how much.  They still don't have to charge that much. 

Our payment started out comperable to rents in Orange County, but then, after two years, almost DOUBLED, not because it had to, but because the lenders could, so they did.  At any time, all the lenders have to do is decide not to be greedy and the whole crisis would be alleviated.  But will they?  Not with the government bills siding with the lenders!!!
Hi Marie,
7 years ago
Between that article, and all your posts on the housing situation, it just seems like an incredible disaster. That police woman sounds dreadful! Cops act more and more like the enforcers of a Police State. you wrote: "Isn't it sad to see the whole long wave of consequences of lender greed? I really do see lender greed as the whole cause of this tide of human disasters. They left open the option of raising people's payments, but did not say how much. They still don't have to charge that much." Marie, I knew a woman who bragged to me, in 2002, of the following: "I did very well in the rental business...two properties I owned for two years (we bought them outright)...and rented them both out for two years. When I sold them I made more than $12,000 on EACH ...NOT including the rent money I made. The last property, I rented out to the same tenants for 4 years. They just bought it from me. I paid $33,000 for that property and sold it for $47,000 ...PLUS made $550 a month for 4 years on it. The sale will "balloon" in 5 years. Now, I make 9% interest on it for 5 years...and then will get roughly $44,000 cash pay off in 5 years." I've found the money is really in foreclosure properties. Last year I bought a 3 bedroom, 2 bath, home with a full basement, 2 car detached garage, on a lot that was 200x60...the house and garage were vinyl-sided. One of the bathrooms was in the basement...and also in the basement was a 12x32 "finished" rec room, laundry room and utility room. I paid $24,175 for the property (in a GREAT location)...I paid contractors $25,000 for all the fix ups (new windows, new roof on house and garage, new well, all new kitchen and main floor bathroom, painting, carpeting)...and sold it for $73,900. So, I made nearly 50% on my investment...that's pretty hard to top! That's why I do foreclosures. Where we live...it's MUCH different than California. Here, you can still find wonderful homes in the $20,000 to $30,000 range. The cost of living here is much less than California. When my husband and I moved here, the first home we bought cost us $35,000. That "same" home would have cost us $300,000 in California! A little over a year ago, we sold our first primary residence here and moved into our current home." I somehow feel that, in her few short paragraphs, all of what's wrong in the real estate and housing market is summed up. It feels to be all about GREED. And from that greed, so much misery.
the text for photo above
7 years ago
"A man waits to use the only shower for the hundreds of residents at a tent city for the homeless in Ontario, a suburb outside Los Angeles, California, Dec. 19, 2007. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson" fair use for humanitarian and socio-economic justice purposes
Fair Use
7 years ago


Tent City Flag- "A U.S. flag flies at a tent city for the homeless in Ontario, a suburb outside Los Angeles, California, Dec. 19, 2007.REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson.

Fair Use
7 years ago


"Homeless activist Jane Mercer stands in front of supplies donated for the homeless in Ontario, a suburb outside Los Angeles, California, Dec. 19, 2007.REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson"

Fair Use
7 years ago


"Bessie Washington, 65, sits by the cooking area outside her tent at a tent city for the homeless in Ontario, a suburb outside Los Angeles, California, Dec. 19, 2007. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson"

Fair Use
7 years ago


"Pattie Barnes, 46, greets her dog at her Chirstmas-decorated caravan at a tent city for the homeless in Ontario, a suburb outside Los Angeles, California, Dec. 19, 2007.REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson"
Fair Use
7 years ago


"Shoes and a bar of soap lie at the entrance of a homeless man's tent at a tent city for the homeless in Ontario, a suburb outside Los Angeles, California, Dec. 19, 2007.REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson"

Fair Use
7 years ago


"Gilbert Ochoa, 47, sweeps the yard outside his tent at a tent city for the homeless in Ontario, a suburb outside Los Angeles, California, Dec. 19, 2007. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson"

7 years ago
Harmony, thanks for these pictures of our fellow men and women and what their lives are like.  These days it is so cold, I got outside to work on my orchard and come in so chilled! 

As I climb into my electric blanket with a quilt and soft blanket on top, shivering, but also rapidly warming up, I can't help thinking about what it must be like not to have a way to warm up, to go hours and days and weeks and months almost never completely warm.  

I know I should not feel guilty, but I do feel very sad.  I dont' think we should try to escape the sadness, or we lose our humanity toward the rest of human kind. 
7 years ago
P.S. The woman you talked about, Harmony, reminds me of some relatives of mine, who endlessly talk about wealth creation through real estate.  So many people in California talk about real estate as THE WAY to get rich.  No wonder Jesus said, "Woe to you rich," since so many wealthy people get their wealth by causing calamity in the lives of anyone they can take advantage of through rent raises and sub-prime loans and foreclosures!  
Marie
7 years ago
Am sitting here and nodding!!
California "Tent City"-- First Bushville in the Nation
7 years ago
http://tinyurl.com/34kxgz December 23, 2007 (LPAC)-- In Ontario, California-- east of Los Angeles-- a "Tent City" of homeless people has grown up. Starting with 20 in July, the "city" now holds 200 people, including several children, a direct product of the housing crisis. Ontario is in San Bernardino County; in San Bernardino, there exists an extraordinary one home foreclosure filing for every 43 households. Further, during November of this year, sales of combined new and used homes in San Bernardino, and surrounding counties, plunged 42.7% from the level of November one year ago. The insane Bush-Cheney economic policy has created a Bushville, in the tradition of Hoovervilles of 1929-32, right in the middle of Arnold Schwarzenegger's California. Ontario, California is not a blighted city, but was part of the once-booming suburbia of southern California. One person who "lives" there, according to a Dec. 21 Reuters story, is Steve, 50, who declined to give his last name. He moved to "Tent City" four months ago. He gets social security payments, but cannot work. "The rentals are sky-high," said Steve. "If it wasn't for here, I wouldn't have a place to go." While claiming that no one recently foreclosed upon is in Tent City, local housing groups are bracing for a significant influx of people as foreclosures rise. *fair use* Harmony- Actually, This is not the first time the term "Bushville" has been used! Please see the following: March For Our Lives Bushville- Why a Bushville? http://www.kwru.org/mfol/bushville/bushville.html And a google search on Bushville turns up 38,400 results!!! Google Search Bushville http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&q=Bushville&btnG=Google+Search
Hundreds of homeless forcibly evicted from Southern California refuge
7 years ago

7 years ago

Hundreds of homeless forcibly evicted from Southern California refuge By Kevin Martinez and Dan Conway 7 April 2008 http://tinyurl.com/69onp9 Dozens of police and state officials descended on the Ontario, California homeless encampment known as “tent city” on March 17 under the pretext of reducing crime and stopping the spread of disease. Approximately 200 residents living at the encampment were forcibly removed. Residents, many with severe physical and mental disabilities, had been given little notice of the planned eviction. Requests for a 30-day reprieve had been denied by local officials. Officials acted with the ostensible intention of removing all non-Ontario residents from the area. To that end, tent city residents were given color-coded arm bands which divided them into three categories; Ontario residents, non-residents, and those who were given a short period of time to prove residence in Ontario. Dogs and other pets were removed from the site along with motor homes and cars that were unable to start properly. The police most likely kicked out many residents who were citizens of Ontario, but were unable to adequately prove it. The evicted residents were then bused out of the encampment, leaving personal belongings behind in many cases. Their ultimate fate remains unclear. One volunteer interviewed by local news station KTLA 5 reported that he had conducted extensive interviews with camp residents and believed that only about 15 percent of the original 400 were not from the city of Ontario as opposed to the 50 percent actually evicted. The encampment itself is located on a group of vacant, dust-covered house lots adjacent to the Ontario airport approximately 40 miles east of the city of Los Angeles. Begun during the summer of 2007 with a group of approximately 30 residents, the camp swelled to an estimated 400 over the course of only a few months. Despite the efforts of a large number of volunteers, who came to offer their help once the existence of “tent city” became more widely known, the residents continue to live in squalid and harsh conditions. Those who do not have an RV or motor home have to live in either camping or improvised tents. Many have only plastic tarps or cardboard boxes to protect them from the elements. World Socialist Web Site reporters who visited “tent city” shortly after the eviction observed that sanitation has become a problem with garbage strewn right next to where people eat and sleep. Only one portable shower for the entire encampment could be seen. To step into the camp is like looking into a 21st century version of John Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath. Indeed, some have dubbed the camp “Bushville”, a reference to “Hoovervilles,” shantytowns set up by the homeless during the Great Depression and whose names were a sarcastic reference to then President Herbert Hoover. Those who live there represent only a tiny fraction of the approximately 131,000 homeless living in San Bernardino and neighboring Los Angeles, Riverside and Orange counties. While local officials have used the occasion of the evictions to announce plans to improve portable bathrooms and install a food service area and fire rings, Brent Schultz, housing manager for the city of Ontario, has announced that the newly fenced in area will be secured between the hours of 10 p.m. and 6 a.m., and expressed the hope that volunteers would largely defray maintenance costs that would otherwise be borne by the city. In addition to the enforced curfew, remaining residents were also given ID cards that allow them a maximum stay of 90 days at the camp. State officials and police, who will now maintain a permanent presence in the area, will also enforce a maximum occupancy of 170 residents. Such measures seem to indicate that the city of Ontario ultimately intends to clear out the site’s homeless population entirely rather than fulfill its stated goal of reducing disease and crime at the site. The majority of “tent city’s” residents suffer from mental illness, drug addiction, physical disability or a combination of all three. However, a recent news story by the BBC revealed that a handful of people in the Ontario encampment were there as a result of the US housing crisis. One individual told the British news agency that he had a choice between “feeding [his] family or keeping the house.” “So I got rid of the house,” he said. As the foreclosure crisis intensifies, this could directly or indirectly lead to an increase in the populations of this and other such encampments. California has been particularly hard-hit by the meltdown of the US home market. According to the web site DataQuick.com, which monitors housing and foreclosure activity in California, the county of San Bernardino, which contains the city of Ontario, experienced a 106 percent increase in mortgage loan default notices between the fourth quarter of 2006 and the fourth quarter of 2007. Similarly, the state of California experienced a 114 percent increase during that same period, and this number is expected to rise as home prices decline along with other economic indicators. (more)

7 years ago

The DataQuick site also reports that while 71 percent of California homeowners so notified were able to safely emerge from the foreclosure process in 2006 either by refinancing, becoming current with their loan payments, or repaying their mortgages through the sale of their homes, this percentage dropped to 41 percent in 2007. While the majority of tent city residents are not as a direct result of the foreclosure crisis, they are victims of its indirect effects. Mike Dunlap, a volunteer with a drug and alcohol rehabilitation center, spoke with WSWS reporters about some of the conditions that originally drove residents to tent city and about the evacuations which he had witnessed. He responded to our question about the impact of foreclosures on homelessness and our observation that one of the many problems fueling the existence of “tent city” was the lack of affordable housing in the area. He explained that he expected to see a “trickle-down effect” from the foreclosure crisis. “Normally, a lot of the homeless on SSI [Supplemental Security Income, a benefit paid out to the elderly and the disabled] in the beginning of the month, when they get paid, would be in hotels for a week, maybe two. If they could afford it, they’d double up. “But what you’re going to see now is all the hotels are going to be full because all the people that have foreclosures that didn’t buy motor homes and trailers took all the spaces wherever they could go. If they fill up all the hotels, where are all the homeless going to go that normally go [to hotels] for two weeks out of a month? They’re going to go on the street. And from that then you’re going to be devastated. “Every community is going to start seeing that,” Dunlap said. “We know there are more people here, caused by the economy, [caused by there being] no jobs, caused by foreclosures. People run out of money and they’re at the bottom.” He added that the Ontario authorities pushed many tent city residents into leaving, even those who legally had a right to stay by virtue of their residence, because they wanted to reduce the numbers at the encampment. “I think what really happened is that they intimidated [the homeless] so bad that they got down to 75, maybe 80 people [remaining],” Dunlap explained. “I don’t doubt that some will die out there,” he continued, “Because knock them down again and again and sooner or later, they’re alone and what else do they do? They commit suicide.” The WSWS also spoke with Tina, a former nurse, and a homeless resident of Ontario’s tent city who was able to stay at the encampment. She explained that she ended up homeless after suffering a shoulder injury. As a result, she could not perform CPR any longer, losing her nursing license and her livelihood. “I’ve been renting an apartment since I was 18 and never had an eviction in my life [until this],” Tina told us. “Now my credit is screwed,” she said, explaining her difficulty getting an apartment. “Rents out here [i.e. in Ontario as opposed to the city of Los Angeles] are more reasonable, but trying to get into a place. They want a first month’s rent, a last month’s rent, and a deposit, and a perfect credit rating,” she noted. We also spoke with Tina about the precarious economic situation confronting working people in the US as a whole. She lamented the impossibility of saving up the three months worth of living expenses that every person is “supposed” to have for an emergency situation “especially if you’re on a limited budget, if you’re on a fixed income.” She added, “52 percent of working Americans are one paycheck away from being homeless.” *fair use*