Finding Heartbreak on Craigslist
The other day while surfing around Craigslist, I stumbled upon the following message that not only is a sign of the times but also related the heartbreaking story of one young family, whose pictures are above.
Here is what the message said:
PLEASE HELP!!!! (JUNCTION CITY/ EUGENE)
Reply to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Date: 2009-04-06, 9:04PM PDT
Let me begin by telling you about ourselves. In our family is myself, 25, my husband, 27, our daughter, 5, and our infant son 7months. We have worked as much as possible, when we got pregnant with our son we had a house were finacially stable and quite capable. Since then, we have hit on some hard times.
While we had a job we got a mini van which we had 6 months of payments on afterwards. We ended up hitting hard times and the van got repoed today. We have a hotel room until Wednesday morning. We are in Junction City. We have maybe $50 to our name and have no idea what to do?
Basically what we are hoping for is someone to help us out. With whatever is possible. With money, or a cheap car, or a cheap camper that runs(then we could just live in it). We are desperate. We are not drug addicts, and if someone was skeptical would be willing to prove it with a drug test. PLEASE if you can help AT ALL call us Nichole and Jeremy 541-337-8369! PLEASE SOMEONE! We are just honest to god good people, please help.
I have heard similar stories of people who have been forced to live out of their cars to avoid being on the streets. This phenomenon is not new in America and was happening before the Wall Street collapse and subsequent economic recession.
Now, however, it is starting to impact all reaches of society. The website End Homelessness notes that more senior citizens are also starting to use their vehicles as shelter. It links to a story from the Seattle Times about one elderly homeless man named Gene Sargent who lives out of his pickup truck. Disturbingly, the Times article warns that,
Sargent’s situation is typical of what will be increasingly common in coming decades, say national advocates for the homeless.
“The homeless population is graying along with the general population, and we’re seeing more elderly people living out their final … years on the streets,” said Michael Stoops, executive director of the National Coalition for the Homeless.
Indeed, tent cities are increasingly becoming a prominent feature of the American landscape. As one website asserts, these tent cities are the modern day version of the Hoovervilles, or shantytowns from the Great Depression era.
The New York Times recently examined this situation across the USA and suggested that while “encampments and street living have always been a part of the landscape in big cities like Los Angeles and New York, these new tent cities have taken root — or grown from smaller enclaves of the homeless as more people lose jobs and housing — in such disparate places as Nashville, Olympia, Wash., and St. Petersburg, Fla.”
No doubt, as the capitalist system plunges further into the abyss, images like these will be replicated not only in the USA but in even more pronounced and tragic ways around the world, especially in the Global South. As the title of a book by Mike Davis aptly puts it, we are living on a planet of slums.