[Hpn] IMC NEWSFEED URL - Poverty, Homelessness Give Rise to Tent City

Tom Boland wgcp@earthlink.net
Sun, 30 Jul 2000 01:12:55 -0700 (PDT)


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     Saturday July 29 @06:07PM

Poverty, Homelessness Give Rise to Tent City

By Ammi Keller, Unconvention Issue 2


In the 1930s, shantytown Hoovervilles cropped up in
America's poorest neighborhoods. Seventy years
later, members of the Kensington Welfare Rights
Union are urging Americans to imagine what a
"Bushville" might look like &#8212 by erecting one
in the most economically depressed part of
Philadelphia. Members of the KWRU emerged from
their Ryder truck at 6 p.m. Thursday to begin
setting up a "tent city" in a weed-filled lot on
the corner of Randolph and Jefferson Streets in
North Philadelphia. They plan to keep the
encampment up through Monday to house the homeless
and the overflow of protesters for the Republican
convention. "They fixed Center City for the
Republicans, but here, instead of putting in money
to revitalize the city, they're tearing down
buildings and hiring more police," said Guillermo
Santos, a 24-year-old member of the Atlanta Labor
Pool Workers Union. Poor families from around the
country are expected to populate Bushville &#8212
so named because the Republican frontrunner's home
state has the second-highest number of children in
the nation without health insurance. The reaction
of those who live in the neighborhood was mixed,
but largely positive. Gee, a 44 year old carpenter
who lives a block away, said the neighborhood
needed the encampment. "If you want to take care of
America," he added, "take care of all Americans."
"It surprised me," said another neighbor, who said
he preferred not to be identified because the tent
city is literally in his backyard. He is not sure
how it will affect him. But Republican and
Democratic leaders, he said, "make the world more
miserable. We're the ones who have got to suffer.
Property is nothing to them &#8212 they're rich.
They forgot about us." Santos and other activists
say they hope the tent city will draw the attention
of Philadelphia residents, television viewers and
conventioneers to inequities in this city and
around the world. "Some people," he acknowledged,
"would rather tear gas us than listen to what we
have to say."

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