In 2006, this sold for $500,000 with no money downWell, here is some depressing news! The hot new housing sector in the US isn’t houses at all: it’s shacks. That’s because the kind of people who used to be your next-door neighbor if you lived in a sort of marginal neighborhood in a largeish city are now squatters living under bridges in Fresno. Hell, maybe you’re one of them.

A flourishing shantytown population does not exactly answer the question of where all the foreclosed mortgagees from Florida and Nevada have ended up, but here’s a guess. Our New Depression has kicked millions of people a few rungs down the socioeconomic ladder, which creates further crowding and instability the farther down you go. Thus, the solvent mortgage-holders become frightened single-income or unemployed mortgage-holders borrowing against their home equity lines for grocery money; the overleveraged mortgage-holders become credit-challenged renters; and the people who barely made rent every month end up in tents. Circle of life, etc. Fortunately, the first time home-buyer’s credit should clear up this whole problem.

Cities Deal With a Surge in Shantytowns [New York Times]

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  1. Cycle of life indeed.

    This will rebuild the shattered US America Economize as Wall St will find a way to create a shack bubble and AIG “insures” hobo bean default swaps.

  2. I had to move to a bridge closer to the Starbucks, as the WiFi didn’t reach the last home. Hope its not one of the Starbucks they plan to close.

  3. Pretty soon everybody will be naked because they can’t afford clothes or barrels. Glad I have the whip, at least, to defend myself and gnaw on for sustenance.

  4. Psssh. These people probably have cell phones, and as we learned from Michelle Malkin a couple weeks ago, if you have a cell phone, you can’t be poor. In fact, you’re probably the monopoly guy.

  5. The age old question remains just as relevant now as it did 180 years ago in Dickens’ time:


  6. I spent some time in Soweto and our hobos are doing it wrong. Corrugated tin is the ONLY way to build a shanty town. Get with the program hobos/neighbors!

  7. We should provide an up to date name for these new favelas. “Hoovervilles” are anachronistic. I propose “Georgetowns”: It works two ways: it both honors our previous “president” and the kleptocracy over which he presided; and it honors the lawyers and lobbyists of our own Georgetown, DC, whose tireless work on behalf of their banking and finance clients made this fabulous catastrophe possible.

  8. [re=273747]hockeymom[/re]: Hey! Cut our hobos a break. All the good tin is being used for meth labs and cockfighting arenas, so they’re doing the best they can.

  9. [re=273766]NoWireHangers[/re]: Thanks for the link. I posted it on my FB page, where it is sure to infuriate the “more tax cuts for the wealthy” crowd.
    Because “those people” should just pull themselves up by their bootstraps, you know.

  10. [re=273766]NoWireHangers[/re]: They are doing much better than the last great depression, which went House–>Tenament–>Shack–>Street, so this is working very well for them.

  11. [re=273742]Serolf Divad[/re]: “Some houses which had become insecure from age and decay, were prevented from falling into the street, by huge beams of wood reared against the walls, and firmly planted in the road; but even these crazy dens seemed to have been selected as the nightly haunts of some houseless wretches, for many of the rough boards which supplied the place of door and window, were wrenched from their positions, to afford an aperture wide enough for the passage of a human body. The kennel was stagnant and filthy. The very rats, which here and there lay putrefying in its rottenness, were hideous with famine.”

    Sounds like they’re having a slightly better time of it in Fresno. At present. They have the slight advantage over their pre-Victorian counterparts because they are still within a 20 minute walk to a functioning Sports Bar. At present.

  12. The circle remains unbroken.

    The Depression dustbowl okie migrants were chased out of their shantytowns in the new utopia by the mobs from the American Legion, inspired by the Repugnants. They uprooted and moved to the central valley and set down roots and calcified into – Repugnants! They voted for the very organization which had plagued them on first arrival. And now they are skidding back to those thrilling days of yesteryear, and they’ll be hounded by the new legion, Faux Noise and Limbo, who will deplore the eyesore of these squatter shacks full of reds and incite their minions of morons to storm the ramshack gates!

    And the survivors will vote Repugnant forevermore, amen. Why? Because they are in essence always and forever dumb okies.

  13. [re=273753]Capitol Hillbilly[/re]: Even before it occurred to me about how it was Santa was able to break into millions of houses in one night when my uncle couldn’t even manage one some nights, I figured Santa out for a plutocrat suckup who reinforced class by leaving me a paper airplane while the banker’s boy drew his own Leer he could fly himself around his room.

  14. We’re still calling them Hoovervilles? Hasn’t Herb suffered enough? Can we at least use this new shanty opportunity to heap sarcastic name based scorn on Bush, Paulson, Cassano, and Gramm? We all may be weeks away from living in tents, but we can’t pass up the opportunity heap ironics naming shame on people who won’t ever care.

  15. [re=273785]Mr Blifil[/re]: The poster boy for Self Reliance is Thoreau, of the mid-nineteenth century. He built his famous cabin on Walden Pond and lived there growing beans for a year, you may remember, and he even blogged about it. Sturdier and ruggeder an individualist never lived, and, with the Civil Disobedience, he might’ve been a Repugnant had there been any such about, exdept he was anti-war. And if that cabin was little more than a mile from downtown Cambridge, and if he sauntered down to lunch with Emerson every blessed day, and took his laundry home to mom each weekend like any self-respecting stoont, what of it? It’s the image that counts.

  16. [re=273749]bureaucrap[/re]: WIN.

    This is actually heartbreaking, but more shameful than anything. I’m always curious about how these things happen, though. Seattle has a wide range of services for the homeless; I’m always (probably stupidly) confused as to how such a problem persists.

  17. Heck, people! Didn’t you see Pursuit of Happyness with Will Smith? All you need to get these Shantytowners back on their feet is:

    1) A DVD of Pursuit of Happyness
    2) A job selling derivatives and related financial instruments

    (Um. Waitasec…)

  18. If you’re living under a bridge in Fresno, the least you can do is wear a suicide vest in the hopes that the ‘tard who runs FreiRepublik is under the same one as you one night. Inshallah Hussein TelePrompTer Socialism!!!11!!

  19. [re=273766]NoWireHangers[/re]: You obviously did not attend Humboldt State University, a bastion of fine edumacation. There were quite a few of us living in tool sheds. And burnt-out redwood stumps. Although this may have had more to do with readily-available cheap pot and shrooms than with financial hardships . . .

    Things I learned in college:
    1. A hollowed-out television makes a great ferret cage.
    2. Peeing in a bottle is much better than a hundred yard dash to the bathroom.
    3. Never do shrooms with a girl who keeps a poster of a pile of money above her bed.
    4. The six year plan is really rushing things, man. Get out of my room!

  20. This is why I drive a minivan, it is easily converted to housing. Ice chest, sleeping bag, 12 volt TV/DVD combo. And a bucket. If the neighbors are noisy, just drive away. Try that with your 5,000+ sq. ft. McMansion!

  21. [re=273749]bureaucrap[/re]: I sixth that. And the Georgetowns are landscaped with Bushes, to dry clothes on, harvest breakfast from, and hide moonshine under.

  22. [re=273787]Bowdoin[/re]: I grew up in Fresno, much of my family still lives there, and I attest that your analysis is spot-on. They are the descendants of the freakin’ Joads.

  23. [re=273835]RabidHamster[/re]: Ditto for The Evergreen State College. Homeless students were affectionately known as “wood nymphs” because they lived in the woods behind the college, near the nude beach on Puget Sound, where the fragrant hirsute hippie chicks could be found sunbathing.

  24. [re=273852]bunnyhead[/re]: If I never smell rancid sweat futilely masked by patchouli again, I will be a very happy man. Ditto never having to wonder whether the pile of crap I’ve just stepped in is human or canine.

  25. Right now I feel dirty just for having found a job in February.

    Also, how about GeorgetoWns? Might be tricky to type, but it would better represent the legacy of our beloved 43rd president.

  26. [re=273802]arewethereyet[/re]: Yes,indeed, but shouldn’t it be capital G as in George Town? Measure twice cut once.

    The thing to remember when building your shack is to use a piece of string and a couple of sticks to make straight wide path ways and try and steal the rigid foam used in commercial construction and then remember to cover it well with something to keep the sun from degrading the poly foam.And also remember to vent your heat and piss upstream. There, new hobo welcome. Now what is in that bag and in those pockets? A tattered copy of The Fountainhead and a clip on bow tie? Get the fuck out of here.

  27. In Paris a couple years ago, Doctors Without Borders came in, gave all the homeless people tents, and then put those tents up all along the Seine. The tourist reaction during trips on the Bateaux Mouches didn’t exactly amuse the local government or the more well-to-do citizenry. If there were only a way to move those tents from Fresno (i.e.) to the A.I.G. headquarters lobby, the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, Mark Sanford’s lily-white island, Rush Whathisname’s backyard…

  28. If Hollywood bought the U.S., it could turn all of us into a giant really cool reality show and everybody would be happy and getting more of the sex.

  29. [re=273943]Lascauxcaveman[/re]: Warning to the uninitiated and not-yet-unemployed: The page I linked to above is the kinda internet gold you can read for HOURS.

  30. [re=273800]Bowdoin[/re]: Stop exaggerating. It’s way more than a mile to Cambridge.

    And I think there’s a laundromat on Walden St.

    He was just part of that naturalist/poet/writer/composer homosexual cabal who wanted some place private to have his “salons.”

  31. [re=273943]Lascauxcaveman[/re]: I have memories. I’m just no longer clear which are my own. And the link . . . wow. The Arcata Eye was just starting up when I left Humboldt, but I think the writer may have also worked for The Lumberjack (campus paper) back then. Wait, what was this post about?

  32. [re=273943]Lascauxcaveman[/re]: Holy Moley! My dream of spending some time in the area may be reduced to a day trip. And I thought Austin was weird.

  33. [re=273810]AnnieGetYourFun[/re]: You aren’t dumb. The policies are dumb. Some folks fall into a netherworld where they are not destitute enought to qualify for government services, but too poor to support themselves. For others, it is decidedly more complex.

    Between school, hospitals, the local community center, and various city, county, state, and federal programs, a homeless kid in Seattle (or DC, LA or NY) could potentially make contact with 30 different government and public/private programs for one problem (like being too scared to travel to and from a new school.) These organizations, particularly government ones, are independently-operating crisis managers and are not designed to collaborate and communicate with others organizations or jurisdictions or coordinate the long-term services they provide (meaning assessments, evaluations, evidenced-based service models.)

    So, for instance, instead of the kid’s school talking to the department of children and family services who then talks with the kid’s social worker who then works with the public housing agency and school safety personnel to provide the kid’s family with resources, a Coach at the Y will just give the kid some one-time bus tokens and call it a day. The kid doesn’t go to school and drops out. Same thing with the family that gets evicted or the communities held hostage by organized drug and gang crime, etc.: most programs are not designed with people’s problems in mind, but what’s most politically palatable.

    The money is there but lack of service coordination (and people’s ignorance on how to access it) gets in the way.

  34. I recall listening to “Shantytown” by Desmond Dekker frequently in my youth…….the song is sooooo catchy and chill, but when one really listens to the the lyrics:

    At ocean eleven
    And now rudeboys have a go wail
    ‘Cause them out of jail
    Rudeboys cannot fail
    ‘Cause them must get bail

    Dem a loot, dem a shoot, dem a wail
    A Shanty Town
    Dem a loot, dem a shoot, dem a wail
    A Shanty Town
    Dem rude boys out on probation
    A Shanty Town
    Them a rude when them come up to town
    A Shanty Town

    …….so maybe living in a Shanty Town isn’t very pleasant.

  35. [re=273749]bureaucrap[/re]: Excellent work. If only the media commonly picked up on pointless memes and spread them around for days and days of news cycles ad infinitum. Then it might have a chance of sticking.

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