Should we make homelessness against the law and simply throw all homeless people into prison so that we don’t have to deal with them? Incredibly, this is actually starting to happen in dozens of major cities all across the United States. It may be difficult to believe, but in many large urban areas today, if you are found guilty of “public camping” you can be taken directly to jail. In some cities, activities such as “blocking a walkway” or creating any sort of “temporary structure for human habitation” are also considered to be serious crimes. And there are some communities that have even made it illegal to feed the homeless without an official permit. Unfortunately, as the U.S. economy continues to slow down the number of homeless people will continue to grow, and so this is a crisis that is only going to grow in size and scope.
Of course the goal of many of these laws is to get the homeless to go somewhere else. But as these laws start to multiply all across the nation, pretty soon there won’t be too many places left where it is actually legal to be homeless.
One city that is being highly criticized for passing extremely draconian laws is Houston. In that city it is actually illegal for the homeless to use any sort of material to shield themselves from the wind, the rain and the cold…
Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner is taking a similar approach—his anti-encampment ordinance makes it illegal to use “fabric, metal, cardboard, or other materials as a tent or temporary structure for human habitation.” This ensures that the Houstonian homeless are vulnerable not just to the elements, but also to the constant threat of the police. Officials cite one of the most common justifications for crackdowns on the homeless: neighborhood safety (a more socially acceptable way of talking about the not-in-my-backyard mentality).
With all of the other problems that we are facing as a nation, it stuns me that there are politicians that would spend their time dreaming up such sick and twisted laws.
According to one news report, the homeless in Houston are now officially banned from doing all of the following things…
1. They can’t block a sidewalk, stand in a roadway median or block a building doorway. (AKA they can’t panhandle).
2. They also can’t do any of these things — blocking walkways — under state law that already existed.
3. They can’t sleep in tents, boxes or any other makeshift shelter on public property.
4. They also can’t have heating devices.
5. They can’t carry around belongings that take up space more than three feet long, three feet wide, three feet tall.
6. People can’t spontaneously feed more than five homeless people without a permit.
If I was a homeless person in Houston, I would definitely be looking to get out of there.
But where are they going to go?
Things are almost as bad in Dallas. In fact, it is being reported that the police in Dallas “issued over 11,000 citations for sleeping in public from January 2012 to November 2015.”
When you break that number down, it comes to 323 citations per month.
Of course some people have tried to challenge these types of laws in court, but most of the challenges have been unsuccessful. For example, just check out what recently happened in Denver…
Three people who were contesting Denver’s urban-camping ban were found guilty on Wednesday, April 5, at the Lindsey-Flanigan courthouse. The defendants — Jerry Burton, Randy Russell and Terese Howard — were determined to have unlawfully camped on November 28, 2016, and to have interfered with police operations at one location. All three were sentenced with court-ordered probation for one year and between twenty and forty hours of community service.
The case challenged Denver’s unauthorized-camping ordinance, which has been divisive ever since Denver City Council approved it in 2012.
Since the courts are generally upholding these laws, this has just emboldened more communities to adopt anti-homelessness ordinances. According to one report, dozens of major cities have now passed such laws…
City-wide bans on public camping (PDF) have increased by 69 percent throughout the United States. What used to be seen as an annoyance is now prohibited, forcing fines or jail time on those who certainly can’t afford it. The only nationwide nonprofit devoted to studying this, the National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty, has been tracking these changes since 2006. Their findings? There are a scary number of laws passed that ironically make it costly to be homeless.
For example, in 33 of the 100 U.S. cities they studied, it’s illegal to publicly camp. In 18, it’s illegal to sleep in public. Panhandling is illegal in 27 cities.
In 39 cities, it’s illegal to live in vehicles.
As I have warned repeatedly, we are seeing hearts grow cold all around us. Instead of doing everything that they can to try to help those in need, communities are trying to make them go some place else, and those that try to feed and help the homeless are being harshly penalized.
Sadly, all of this comes at a time when homelessness is on the rise all over America. In a previous article I pointed out that in New York City the number of homeless people recently hit a brand new all-time high, and things have gotten so bad in Los Angeles that the L.A. City Council has formally requested that Governor Jerry Brown declare a state of emergency.
We tend to think of the homeless as bearded old men with drinking problems, but the truth is that many of the homeless are children.
In fact, the number of homeless children in the United States has risen by about 60 percent since the end of the last recession.
If this is how we are going to treat some of the most vulnerable members of our society while things are still relatively stable, how are we going to be treating one another when the economy completely collapses?
We always knew that this would start happening. Earlier this month, I wrote about the severe economic problems that are plaguing South America, but up to this point I have neglected to discuss the horrific famines that are breaking out all over Africa. Right now there is a desperate need for food in South Sudan, Somalia, northeast Nigeria, Eritrea and Kenya. And Yemen, even though it is not technically part of Africa, is being affected by many of the same factors that are crippling nations all over eastern Africa. The United Nations says that more than 20 million people could die from starvation and disease if nothing is done. When I write about economic collapse, this is the kind of thing that I am talking about, and we are starting to see alarming conditions spread across the globe. Many believe that we could never possibly face this kind of food crisis in the western world, but unfortunately wishful thinking will only get you so far.
“We stand at a critical point in history. Already at the beginning of the year we are facing the largest humanitarian crisis since the creation of the UN,” UN humanitarian chief Stephen O’Brien said Friday.
“Now, more than 20 million people across four countries face starvation and famine. Without collective and coordinated global efforts, people will simply starve to death. Many more will suffer and die from disease.”
It would be hard to overstate the level of human suffering that we are witnessing in many parts of Africa at this moment. In Somalia, the UN estimates that more than 6 million people are in desperate need of food aid…
As Somalia inches closer to a calamitous famine, the prospect of utter devastation and colossal loss of human life is once again becoming an imminent reality. The humanitarian situation in Somalia is deteriorating by the day with up to 6.2 million people in need of urgent aid. People across Somalia have been forced to walk hundreds of miles in search of food, water and shelter- with women and children disproportionately affected. Over 300,000 children under the age of five are severely malnourished, with over 200,000 more children at risk of acute malnutrition.
In South Sudan, close to half the population is in dire need of assistance, and things have gotten so bad there that people will literally eat grass if they can find it…
Across South Sudan more than one million children are believed to be acutely malnourished and UNICEF have said that if urgent aid does not reach them, many of them will die. “There is no food, we eat anything we can find,” one South Sudanese mother told ITV. “We will find grass, we will eat it. That’s just the way it us for us now.”
“The numbers affected are absolutely extraordinary,” said Mark Kaye, Save the Children’s Yemen spokesperson.
“We keep on talking about a country that’s on the brink of famine, but for me these numbers highlight that we’re at the point of no return. If things are not done now we are going to be looking back on this and millions of children will have starved to death, and we’ll all have been aware of this for some time. That will shame us as an international community for years to come.
But we cannot understand why Eritrea is not included in the appeal. Unicef has confirmed what we know from our friends and families inside the country. In a report in January, the agency said that the El Niño drought has hit half of all Eritrea’s regions. Acute malnutrition is widespread. As Unicef put it: “Malnutrition rates already exceeded emergency levels, with 22,700 children under five projected to suffer from severe acute malnutrition in 2017 … Half of all children in Eritrea are stunted, and as a result, these children are even more vulnerable to malnutrition and disease outbreaks.”
We have been warned that there would be famines in diverse places in these times. But here in the western world we tend to be lulled into a false sense of security by our comfortable lives, not realizing that the massively inflated standard of living that we have been enjoying has been fueled by the largest mountain of debt in the history of the planet.
In Kenya, a national emergency has been declared due to drought and famine. For those of you that are parents, what would you do if your children were crying out for food but you didn’t have anything to give them? The following story from Kenya is beyond heartbreaking…
Emmanuel Ayapar is three years old and can no longer walk. The flesh on his legs, which dangle from his mother’s hip as she carries him around, is wasting away.
He seems listless and sad, tongue flicking repeatedly in and out of his mouth.
‘We do not have enough food,’ said Veronica, his 28-year-old mother. ‘We eat only once a day.’
The little boy is suffering from severe malnutrition and is at risk of starving to death. He weighs just 15lb – half the typical weight for a boy of his age.
I don’t even know what to say after that.
In the western world we can be so incredibly self-absorbed that we don’t even realize that children are literally starving to death on the other side of the planet.
Hopefully those of us that live in “wealthy” western countries will step up to the plate and aid those in need, and hopefully this crisis will also help us to understand that we need to prepare for the day when things get difficult in our own nations too.
If you want to be a “Good Samaritan” to the homeless in your community, you might want to check and see if it is legal first. All over the country, cities are passing laws that make it illegal to feed and shelter the homeless. For example, in this article you will read about a church in Maryland that was just fined $12,000 for simply allowing homeless people to sleep outside the church at night. This backlash against homeless people comes at a time when homelessness in America is absolutely exploding. In a previous article, I shared with my readers the fact that the number of homeless people in New York City has just set a brand new all-time high, and the homelessness crisis in California has become so severe that the L.A. City Council has formally asked Governor Jerry Brown to declare a state of emergency. Sadly, instead of opening up our hearts to the rapidly growing number of Americans without a home, way too many communities are trying to use the law to force them to go somewhere else.
For nearly two thousand years, churches have been at the forefront of helping the poor and disadvantaged, but now many communities are trying to stop this from happening. Earlier today, I was absolutely stunned when I came across an article that talked about how a church in Dundalk, Maryland has been fined $12,000 for allowing the homeless to sleep outside the church at night…
“I showed up Wednesday morning to find a citation on the door that said we’re going to be fined $12,000 and have a court date because we have unhoused homeless people sleeping outside the church at night,” said Reverend Katie Grover with the Patapsco United Methodist Church.
Grover added that the men and women who sleep outside their doors do so because they have nowhere else to go and because they feel safe there.
“We feel we here as a church that it’s scriptural mandate that’s it an imperative to care for the least, the last, the lost, the poor, the hungry,” she said.
The authorities in Dundalk say that the church is running a “non-permitted rooming and boarding house”, and the severity of this fine is likely to put the church in significant financial difficulty if it is forced to pay it. You can watch a local news report discussing this story on YouTube right here…
Of course Dundalk is far from alone. All across the U.S. laws have been passed that specifically target the homeless. According to the National Coalition for the Homeless, the following are some of the most typical ways that the homeless are targeted…
Carrying out sweeps (confiscating personal property including tents, bedding, papers, clothing, medications, etc.) in city areas where homeless people live.
Making panhandling illegal.
Making it illegal for groups to share food with homeless persons in public spaces.
Enforcing a “quality of life” ordinance relating to public activity and hygiene.
There are some people that have been feeding the hungry for decades that now find that their work has been suddenly made illegal. For instance, down in Houston a Good Samaritan named Jay Hamberger is outraged that the help that he has been providing to the homeless for 27 years has now made him an outlaw…
Jay Hamberger has been bringing food to Houston’s homeless for 27 years. He feels the city is infringing on his right to help others by requiring him to have prior permission to distribute food on public and private property.
“I’ve done it with impunity for 27 years now, and I’m the most law-abiding outlaw, because what I’m doing is illegal,” Hamberger said. “My understanding is that there’s no legal way to make this right with the city.”
This is just another example of how our society is being strangled to death by control freaks.
If I see someone that is desperately hungry and I want to give that person food, then I am going to do it no matter what the law says.
Unfortunately, as the homelessness crisis continues to escalate these types of laws are only going to increase. Even in supposedly “tolerant” areas of the country we are seeing draconian measures being implemented. For example, just check out the new ordinance that was just passed in Los Angeles…
LA legislators passed an ordinance that would ban people from sleeping in cars and recreational vehicles (RVs) near homes, parks and schools. Advocates see the ordinance as the latest move to criminalize homeless people.
The Los Angeles City Council voted in favor of the ordinance on Wednesday. Banning people from sleeping near homes, schools and parks in their vehicles, would, if signed into law, only make it legal to sleep overnight in cars and RV’s in industrial or commercial districts from 9:00pm to 6:00am.
As millions of Americans have fallen out of the middle class in recent years, we have seen an explosion in the number of people living in cars, trucks and recreational vehicles. This is something that I addressed in my recent article entitled “Living In A Van Down By The River – Time To Face The True State Of The Middle Class In America“. During this time of the year many that live in their vehicles head for warmer climates, and cities like Los Angeles are responding to the influx of homeless people by trying to force them to go somewhere else.
And this “war on the homeless” has actually been ramping up for quite a while. Just check out these numbers from the Washington Post…
Cities have enacted a wave of crackdowns and new laws against panhandling, camping and other activities associated with homelessness. They say such efforts help preserve the renewed vitality, curbing crime, health problems and behaviors that bother residents and disrupt business.
Between 2011 and 2014, the National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty found that bans on sleeping in cars shot up 119 percent, citywide camping prohibitions jumped 60 percent, anti-loitering laws increased 35 percent and anti-begging laws increased 25 percent in a survey of 187 cities.
Homeless people do not have a permanent address, and there is always a temptation to try to force them to go somewhere else so that they become someone else’s problem.
But the truth is that we have a massive national crisis on our hands. The number of homeless children in this country has increased by 60 percent since the end of the last recession, and the number of homeless people sleeping in shelters has risen to record levels in major cities on both the east and west coast.
And considering the fact that about two-thirds of the country is currently living paycheck to paycheck, how bad will things get once the next major recession strikes?
Poverty is growing all over the nation, and at the same time hearts all over America are growing very cold.
I truly fear for what this country is going to look like just a few years from now.
Could you imagine spending the holidays in a homeless shelter, in a tent city surrounded by drug addicts and prostitutes, or in a sleeping bag on the cold, hard streets of an urban jungle? Unfortunately, that is what real life looks like for an increasing number of Americans. Most of the time when we think of “homeless people”, the image that comes into our minds is one of a grizzled old man asking for some spare change, but the truth is that vast numbers of women and children in our country do not have anywhere to live. In fact, Poverty USA has reported that last year a grand total 1.6 million U.S. children stayed either in a homeless shelter or in some other form of emergency housing. And you never hear the mainstream media report this number, but the truth is that the number of homeless children in the United States has risen by 60 percent since the “end” of the last recession. For the moment the wealthy are getting wealthier, but meanwhile things have just continued to get harder and harder for those that are struggling to survive in this economy.
In Wal-Mart parking lots and campgrounds all over America tonight, you will find formerly middle class families that are living in cars, trucks and recreational vehicles during this holiday season. Most of them will never complain and will try to put on a happy face outwardly, but inside the worry and fear are eating them alive.
As the weather gets cold, many homeless Americans head for warmer climates, and this is one of the factors that is fueling the unprecedented homelessness crisis in Los Angeles. The following comes from L.A. Weekly…
By nearly every metric, Los Angeles has the worst homelessness crisis of any city in America. According to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, there are more people suffering from chronic homelessness in L.A. than anywhere in the country, and their number is growing at a faster clip than those in New York City.
One homeless man in Los Angeles has decided to do what he can to make the best of his circumstances. He has transformed a depressingly bleak area underneath a freeway underpass into his own “personal paradise”…
A homeless man who turned a freeway underpass into his personal paradise by furnishing it with a make-shift jacuzzi and four-poster bed has become a viral hit and unlikely tourist attraction.
Ceola Waddell Jr, 59, began living in the underpass in L.A.’s 110 freeway near Coliseum six months ago.
He has since foraged two porcelain toilets, discarded refrigerators, couches and two beds to transform the space into his personal refuge.
You can’t help but smile when you read what Mr. Waddell has done, but the truth is that the homelessness crisis in the state is rapidly getting way out of control. In fact, Los Angeles is swamped by so many homeless people at this point that the L.A. City Council has asked California Governor Jerry Brown to officially declare a state of emergency.
On the east coast things are getting really, really bad as well.
You may find this hard to believe, but the number of homeless people in New York City has never been higher…
The number of homeless people living in New York City has reached a record-high.
The Department of Homeless Services reported there were 60,252, up 200 in two weeks.
Now, some are saying the city’s current plan to combat homelessness isn’t working.
So why is this happening?
The stock market is at an all-time high and the mainstream media keeps telling us that things are getting better, and yet poverty just continues to rise.
Other than the very wealthy, the truth is that things are not getting any better for virtually everyone else. In fact, it has been reported that over half of all New Yorkers “are teetering on the brink of homelessness”…
More than half of all New Yorkers are teetering on the brink of homelessness — without enough cash in the bank to cover them in the event of a disaster or lost job, a troubling new study has found.
This is one of the reasons why I am always encouraging my readers to build up their emergency funds. Sadly, the cold, hard reality of the matter is that most of the country is only a couple of paychecks away from losing everything.
To give you an idea of how deep the suffering can be this time of the year for those that have already lost it all, I want to share with you a story of a precious little dog named Ollie…
When Ollie was found, his fur was matted and so long you couldn’t see his adorable little eyes. He was clearly in need of dire help.
A woman and her sister saw Ollie outside her apartment, shivering in the freezing cold. They brought him in and quickly called the Michigan Humane Society to help take care of the dog.
Once Ollie was brought in, it was discovered just how sick he is. Had he not been rescued, he would have suffered a very painful death alone in the streets.
Very few people could come across a hurting dog like Ollie without helping him out, but what about the countless numbers of our fellow Americans that no longer have a warm home and will spend the night shivering in the cold?
Look, the truth is that you don’t have to have a whole lot of resources in order to make a difference. In Tennessee, there is a group of elderly women that refer to themselves as “the bag ladies” that are turning old plastic bags into sleeping mats for the homeless…
It all starts with cutting plastic bags into strips, tying those strips together, and rolling them into a ball.
The Bag Ladies call it “plarn,” instead of yarn. They then crochet the “plarn” into mats.
It takes 600 bags to make an 18 square foot mat. So far, this year, they have used 52,000 bags to make 88 mats.
“This is not young ladies doing this. This is older ladies with the arthritis,” said Akin.
How marvelous is that?
A single act of kindness can make a world of difference.
In the months ahead, temperatures are only going to get colder and economic conditions are only going to get tougher for those that are already living in poverty.
I would encourage all of us to think about what we can do to make a difference for those that are deeply hurting this time of the year.
Could you survive on just $2.50 a day? According to Compassion International, approximately half of the population of the entire planet currently lives on $2.50 a day or less. Meanwhile, those hoarding wealth at the very top of the global pyramid are rapidly becoming a lot wealthier. Don’t get me wrong – I am a very big believer in working hard and contributing something of value to society, and those that work the hardest and contribute the most should be able to reap the rewards. In this article I am in no way, shape or form criticizing true capitalism, because if true capitalism were actually being practiced all over the planet we would have far, far less poverty today. Instead, our planet is dominated by a heavily socialized debt-based central banking system that systematically transfers wealth from hard working ordinary citizens to the global elite. Those at the very top of the pyramid know that they are impoverishing everyone else, and they very much intend to keep it that way.
Let’s start with some of the hard numbers. According to Zero Hedge, Credit Suisse had just released their yearly report on global wealth, and it shows that 45.6 percent of all the wealth in the world is controlled by just 0.7 percent of the people…
As Credit Suisse tantalizingly shows year after year, the number of people who control just shy of a majority of global net worth, or 45.6% of the roughly $255 trillion in household wealth, is declining progressively relative to the total population of the world, and in 2016 the number of people who are worth more than $1 million was just 33 million, roughly 0.7% of the world’s population of adults. On the other end of the pyramid, some 3.5 billion adults had a net worth of less than $10,000, accounting for just about $6 trillion in household wealth.
And since this is a yearly report, we can go back and see how things have changed over time. When Zero Hedge did this, it was discovered that the wealth of those at the very top “has nearly doubled” over the past six years, and meanwhile the poor have gotten even poorer…
Incidentally, we tracked down the first Credit Suisse report we found in this series from 2010, where the total wealth of the top “layer” in the pyramid was a modest $69.2 trillion for the world’s millionaires. It has nearly doubled in the 6 years since then. Meanwhile, the world’s poorest have gotten, you got it, poorer, as those adults who were worth less than $10,000 in 2010 had a combined net worth of $8.2 trillion, a number which has since declined to $6.1 trillion in 2016 despite a half a billion increase in the sample size.
If these trends continue at this pace, it won’t be too long before the global elite have virtually all of the wealth and the rest of us have virtually nothing.
Perhaps you are fortunate enough to still have a good job, and you live in a large home and you will sleep in a warm bed tonight.
Well, you should consider yourself to be very blessed, because that is definitely not the case for most of the rest of the world. The following 11 facts about global poverty come from dosomething.com, and I want you to really let these numbers sink in for a moment…
Nearly 1/2 of the world’s population — more than 3 billion people — live on less than $2.50 a day. More than 1.3 billion live in extreme poverty — less than $1.25 a day.
1 billion children worldwide are living in poverty. According to UNICEF, 22,000 children die each day due to poverty.
805 million people worldwide do not have enough food to eat. Food banks are especially important in providing food for people that can’t afford it themselves. Run a food drive outside your local grocery store so people in your community have enough to eat. Sign up for Supermarket Stakeout.
More than 750 million people lack adequate access to clean drinking water. Diarrhea caused by inadequate drinking water, sanitation, and hand hygiene kills an estimated 842,000 people every year globally, or approximately 2,300 people per day.
In 2011, 165 million children under the age 5 were stunted (reduced rate of growth and development) due to chronic malnutrition.
Preventable diseases like diarrhea and pneumonia take the lives of 2 million children a year who are too poor to afford proper treatment.
As of 2013, 21.8 million children under 1 year of age worldwide had not received the three recommended doses of vaccine against diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis.
1/4 of all humans live without electricity — approximately 1.6 billion people.
80% of the world population lives on less than $10 a day.
Oxfam estimates that it would take $60 billion annually to end extreme global poverty–that’s less than 1/4 the income of the top 100 richest billionaires.
The World Food Programme says, “The poor are hungry and their hunger traps them in poverty.” Hunger is the number one cause of death in the world, killing more than HIV/AIDS, malaria, and tuberculosis combined.
So how did we get here?
Debt is the primary mechanism that takes wealth from ordinary people like you and me and puts it into the hands of the global elite.
In that very same year, the federal income tax was instituted, and that is a key part of the program for the global elite. You see, the income tax is how wealth is transferred from us to the government. And then a continuously growing national debt is how that wealth is transferred from the government to the elite.
It is a very complicated system, but at the end of the day it is all about taking money from us and getting it into their pockets.
It is a global system that is designed to create as much debt as possible, and I recently shared with my readers that the total amount of debt in the world has hit a staggering all-time record high of 152 trillion dollars.
Interestingly, the Bible actually foretells of a time when rich men would hoard wealth in the last days. The following are the first five verses of the Book of James in the Modern English Version…
Come now, you rich men, weep and howl for your miseries that shall come upon you. 2 Your riches are corrupted and your garments are moth-eaten. 3 Your gold and silver are corroded, and their corrosion will be a witness against you and will eat your flesh like fire. You have stored up treasures for the last days. 4 Indeed the wages that you kept back by fraud from the laborers who harvested your fields are crying, and the cries of those who harvested have entered into the ears of the Lord of Hosts. 5 You have lived in pleasure on the earth and have been wayward. You have nourished your hearts as in a day of slaughter.
So much of the time we focus on the other great sins that we see all around us, but the truth is that one of the greatest sins of all in our world today is the sin of greed.
The borrower is the servant of the lender, and the global elite have used various forms of debt to turn the rest of the planet into their debt slaves.
As debt levels race higher and higher all over the planet, the elite are using the magic of compound interest to grab a bigger and bigger share of the pie.
Given enough time, those at the very top would have virtually everything and the rest of us would have virtually nothing. The middle class is shrinking all over the globe, and the gap between the wealthy and the poor continues to grow at an astounding pace.
But the vast majority of people out there have no idea how money, debt, taxes and central banks really work, and so they have no idea that this is purposely being done to them.
So please share this article with as many people as you can. The truth is that we don’t have to have this much global poverty, and if we correctly identify the root causes of this poverty we can start working on some real solutions.
Do you remember the old Saturday Night Live sketches in which comedian Chris Farley portrayed a motivational speaker that lived in a van down by the river? Unfortunately, this is becoming a reality for way too many Americans. As the middle class has shrunk and the cost of living has increased, a lot of people have decided to quite literally “live on the road”. Whether it is a car, a truck, a van, a bus or an RV, an increasing number of Americans are using their vehicles as their homes. Just recently, someone that I know took a trip down the west coast of the United States and stayed at a number of campgrounds along the way. What she discovered was that a lot of people were actually living at these campgrounds. Of course there are some that actually prefer that lifestyle, but many others are doing it out of necessity.
Earlier this week, Circa.com posted a story about “the van life”. One of the individuals that they featured was a recent graduate of the University of Southern California named Stephen Hutchins. Without much of an income at the moment, he decided that the best way to cut expenses was to live in his van…
“The main expenses are insurance for the van, which is like $60 a month,” said Hutchins. “Then, I have a storage unit for like $60.”
That puts his monthly rent at $120. The van cost him just $125 at an auction.
Living in a van is certainly not the most comfortable way to go, and many of you are probably wondering how he performs basic tasks such as cooking and bathing. Well, it turns out that he makes extensive use of public facilities…
He showers at the gym, cooks on a portable stove on a sidewalk (he stores his butane at his friends’ place nearby) and uses wifi at nearby coffeeshops.
For a while such a lifestyle may seem like “an adventure”, but after a while it will start to get really old. And not a lot of women are going to be excited about dating a man that lives in a van, and you certainly wouldn’t want to raise a family in a vehicle.
Sadly, just like during the last economic crisis many Americans are getting to the point where staying in their homes may not be an option. Just check out the following excerpt from a recent New York Post article entitled “The terrifying signs of a looming housing crisis“…
The number of New Yorkers applying for emergency grants to stay in their homes is skyrocketing — as the number of people staying in homeless shelters reached an all-time high last weekend, records show.
There were 82,306 applications for one-time emergency grants to prevent evictions in fiscal 2016, up 26 percent from 65,138 requests the previous year, according to the Mayor’s Management Report.
I put a couple of phrases in that quote in bold because I really wanted you to notice a couple of things.
First of all, it is very alarming to hear that the number of New Yorkers staying in homeless shelters “reached an all-time high” last weekend. I thought that we were supposed to be in an “economic recovery”, but apparently things in New York are rapidly getting worse.
Secondly, the fact that applications for emergency grants are up 26 percent compared to last year is another indication of how rough things are right now for average families in New York. We all remember what happened when millions of families lost their homes to foreclosure across the nation during the last financial crisis, and nobody should want to see a repeat of that any time soon.
During this election season, Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton would like all of us to believe that the economy is doing just fine, but that is not true at all. Even using the doctored numbers that the government gives us, Barack Obama is solidly on track to be the only president in all of U.S. history to never have a single year of 3 percent GDP growth, and he has had two terms to try to do that.
Gallup CEO Jim Clifton is also quite skeptical of this “economic recovery”, and he recently authored an article on this subject that is receiving a tremendous amount of attention. The following is how that article begins…
I’ve been reading a lot about a “recovering” economy. It was even trumpeted on Page 1 of The New York Times and Financial Times last week.
Once upon a time, America was the land of opportunity.
We were the place where anything was possible and where entrepreneurship was greatly encouraged.
But today we strangle small businesses to death with rules, regulations, red tape and taxes.
If we want a stronger middle class, we need to create a much better environment for the creation of small businesses. Small business ownership often lifts individuals into the middle class, and small businesses have traditionally been the primary engine for the growth of good jobs in this country.
If the middle class continues to shrink, poverty will continue to rise. Previously I have written about how the number of homeless children in the United States has shot up by 60 percent since the last economic crisis, and Poverty USA claims that a staggering 1.6 million children slept either in a homeless shelter or in some other form of emergency housing during 2015.
If you will be sleeping in a warm bed in a comfortable home tonight, you should be thankful. An increasing number of Americans are sleeping in tent cities, in their vehicles or on the streets. These hurting people deserve our love, our compassion and our prayers.
When people get hungry enough, they will do just about anything for some food. According to brand new research that was just released this week from Feeding America and the Urban Institute, there are millions of teenagers in America that live in “food insecure” households, and researchers were stunned to learn what some of these teens are willing to do to feed themselves. Some resort to shoplifting, others deal drugs, and there were a surprising number of participants in the study that actually admitted to trading sex for food. It wouldn’t be a shock to hear that these kinds of things are going on in an economically-depressed nation such as Venezuela, but this is the United States of America. We are supposed to be the wealthiest nation on the entire planet. Sadly, even while the stock market has been soaring in recent years, poverty in America has been on the rise. For those on the low end of the economic scale, things have gone from bad to worse since the end of the last recession, and millions of children are deeply suffering as a result.
An estimated 6.8 million people ages 10 to 17 are food insecure, meaning they don’t have reliable access to enough affordable, nutritious food. Another 2.9 million are very food insecure, and roughly 4 million live in marginally food secure households, where the threat of running out of food is real.
Food insecurity takes a tremendous toll on teenagers. Poor nutrition—and the stress of hunger and poverty—can jeopardize their physical and mental health and development and their academic success. But despite the gravity and prevalence of teen food insecurity, we know very little about how these young people experience and cope with hunger.
The researchers already knew that lots of young people were hungry in America. But what surprised them were the lengths that many of these youngsters said that they would go to in order to get food…
Some of the youths said they or someone they know — mostly young men — have turned to shoplifting food, selling drugs or stealing items to sell.
The teens also reported knowing young women who have sold their bodies for food or had sex for money so they could buy food for their families.
Going to jail or failing a class in order to have to attend summer school were also some of the lengths teens went to.
Could you imagine your daughter or your granddaughter exchanging her body for food?
For most of us that is absolutely unthinkable, but the truth is that this is taking place on the streets of America every single day.
And this wasn’t just some blind random phone survey. The researchers conducted personal interviews with focus groups, and what these kids were willing to admit doing was absolutely astounding. Here is another excerpt directly out of the report…
When faced with acute food insecurity, teens in all but two of the communities said that youth engage in criminal behavior, ranging from shoplifting food directly to selling drugs and stealing items to resell for cash. These behaviors were most common among young men in communities with the most limited job options.
Teens in all 10 communities and in 13 of the 20 focus groups talked about some youth selling sex for money to pay for food. These themes arose most strongly in high-poverty communities where teens also described sexually coercive environments. Sexual exploitation most commonly took the form of transactional dating relationships with older adults.
In a few communities, teens talked about going to jail or failing school (so they could attend summer classes and get school lunch) as viable strategies for ensuring regular meals.
Many of these young people understand that what they are doing is wrong. Just consider what some of them told the researchers…
A girl in Portland, Oregon told researchers: “It’s really like selling yourself. Like you’ll do whatever you need to do to get money or eat.”
Another comment from Portland: “You’re not even dating … they’ll be like … ‘I don’t really love him, but I’m going to do what I have to do.’”
Many prefer to rationalise what they are doing as dating of sorts. A boy in rural North Carolina said: “When you’re selling your body, it’s more in disguise. Like if I had sex with you, you have to buy me dinner tonight … that’s how girls deal with the struggle … That’s better than taking money because if they take money, they will be labeled a prostitute.”
When I read the information in this report, I was stunned. Yes, I write about our economic decline and the rise in poverty all the time, but I didn’t know that things were this bad.
And the researchers were surprised by what they were hearing as well. One of them said that the fact that girls are trading their bodies for food “was really shocking to me”, and she believes that things are “just getting worse over time”…
“I’ve been doing research in low-income communities for a long time, and I’ve written extensively about the experiences of women in high poverty communities and the risk of sexual exploitation, but this was new,” said Susan Popkin, a senior fellow at the Urban Institute and lead author of the report, Impossible Choices.
“Even for me, who has been paying attention to this and has heard women tell their stories for a long time, the extent to which we were hearing about food being related to this vulnerability was new and shocking to me, and the level of desperation that it implies was really shocking to me. It’s a situation I think is just getting worse over time.”
But aren’t we being told that things are getting better?
Aren’t we being told that our leaders “fixed” the economy?
Of course the truth is that America is mired in a long-term economic decline that stretches back for decades. With each passing year the middle class gets smaller as a percentage of the population, and poverty continues to grow. Last year the middle class became a minority of the population for the first time ever, and a lot of formerly middle class Americans are now among those that aren’t sure that they are going to have enough food to eat this month.
Hunger in America is a major crisis and it is growing. Just because you may live in a comfortable home in a wealthy neighborhood does not mean that this problem is not real.
Tonight there are millions of Americans that do not know where their next meal is going to come from, and they deserve our love and compassion.
Just like during the last economic crisis, homeless encampments are popping up all over the nation as poverty grows at a very alarming rate. According to the Department of Housing and Urban Development, more than half a million people are homeless in America right now, but that figure is increasing by the day. And it isn’t just adults that we are talking about. It has been reported that that the number of homeless children in this country has risen by 60 percent since the last recession, and Poverty USA says that a total of 1.6 million children slept either in a homeless shelter or in some other form of emergency housing at some point last year. Yes, the stock market may have been experiencing a temporary boom for the last couple of years, but for those on the low end of the economic scale things have just continued to deteriorate.
Tonight, countless numbers of homeless people will try to make it through another chilly night in large tent cities that have been established in the heart of major cities such as Seattle, Washington, D.C. and St. Louis. Homelessness has gotten so bad in California that the L.A. City Council has formally asked Governor Jerry Brown to officially declare a state of emergency. And in Portland the city has extended their “homeless emergency” for yet another year, and city officials are really struggling with how to deal with the booming tent cities that have sprung up…
There have always been homeless people in Portland, but last summer Michelle Cardinal noticed a change outside her office doors.
Almost overnight, it seemed, tents popped up in the park that runs like a green carpet past the offices of her national advertising business. She saw assaults, drug deals and prostitution. Every morning, she said, she cleaned human feces off the doorstep and picked up used needles.
“It started in June and by July it was full-blown. The park was mobbed,” she said. “We’ve got a problem here and the question is how we’re going to deal with it.”
But of course it isn’t just Portland that is experiencing this. The following list of major tent cities that have become so well-known and established that they have been given names comes from Wikipedia…
Most of the time, those that establish tent cities do not want to be discovered because local authorities have a nasty habit of shutting them down and forcing homeless people out of the area. For example, check out what just happened in Elkhart, Indiana…
A group of homeless people in Elkhart has been asked to leave the place they call home. For the last time, residents of ‘Tent City’ packed up camp.
City officials gave residents just over a month to vacate the wooded area; Wednesday being the last day to do so.
The property has been on Mayor Tim Neese’s radar since he took office in January, calling it both a safety and health hazard to its residents and nearby pedestrian traffic.
“This has been their home but you can’t live on public property,” said Mayor Tim Neese, Elkhart.
If they can’t live on “public property”, where are they supposed to go?
They certainly can’t live on somebody’s “private property”.
This is the problem – people don’t want to deal with the human feces, the needles, the crime and the other problems that homeless people often bring with them. So the instinct is often to kick them out and send them away.
Unfortunately, that doesn’t fix the problem. It just passes it on to someone else.
As this new economic downturn continues to accelerate, our homelessness boom is going to spiral out of control. Pretty soon, there will be tent cities in virtually every community in America.
In fact, there are people that are living comfortable middle class lifestyles right at this moment that will end up in tents. We saw this during the last economic crisis, and it will be even worse as this next one unfolds.
Just like last time around, the signs that the middle class is really struggling can be subtle at first, but when you learn to take note of them you will notice that they are all around you. The following comes from an excellent article in the New York Post…
Do you see grocery stores closing? Do you see other retailers, like clothing stores and department stores, going out of business?
Are there shuttered storefronts along your Main Street shopping district, where you bought a tool from the hardware store or dropped off your dry cleaning or bought fruits and vegetables?
Are you making as much money annually as you did 10 years ago?
Do you see homes in neighborhoods becoming run down as the residents either were foreclosed upon, or the owner lost his or her job so he or she can’t afford to cut the grass or paint the house?
Did that same house where the Joneses once lived now become a rental property, where new people come to live every few months?
Do you know one or two people who are looking for work? Maybe professionals, who you thought were safe in their jobs?
Don’t look down on those that are living in tents, because the truth is that many “middle class Americans” will ultimately end up joining them.
The correct response to those that are hurting is love and compassion. We all need help at some point in our lives, and I know that I am certainly grateful to those that have given me a helping hand at various points along my journey.
Sadly, hearts are growing cold all over the nation, and the weather is only going to get colder over the months ahead. Let us pray for health and safety for the hundreds of thousands of Americans that will be sleeping in tents and on the streets this winter.
Most of us have never witnessed an economic “recovery” this bad. As you will see below, the average rate of economic growth since the last recession has been the lowest for any “recovery” in at least 67 years. And unfortunately, the economy appears to be slowing down even more here in 2016. On Friday, I talked about how the U.S. economy grew at a painfully slow rate of just 1.2 percent in the second quarter after only growing 0.8 percent during the first quarter. And last week we also learned that the homeownership rate in the United States has dropped to the lowest level ever. This is not what a recovery looks like. Instead, it very much appears that a new economic downturn has already begun.
Even seven years after the recession ended, the current stretch of economic gains has yielded less growth than much shorter business cycles.
In terms of average annual growth, the pace of this expansion has been by far the weakest of any since 1949. (And for which we have quarterly data.) The economy has grown at a 2.1% annual rate since the U.S. recovery began in mid-2009, according to gross-domestic-product data the Commerce Department released Friday.
The prior expansion, from 2001 through 2007, was the only other business cycle of the past 11 when the economy didn’t grow at least 3% a year, on average.
Now, the auto sector, which has propped up GDP growth for years, is slowing down. For the first six months, total car and light truck sales, at a seasonally adjusted annual rate (SAAR) of 17.5 million vehicles, are lagging behind last year by 100,000 units. Over the first half, fleet sales to rent-a-car companies and big fleet buyers were up industry wide. But retail sales fell 2%.
All over the corporate world, earnings are down.
In some cases, they are way down.
It is being projected that this will be the fifth quarter in a row when corporate earnings have declined, and even mainstream analysts are now admitting that it is “evident” that we have entered “a global slowdown”…
“Earnings season in the U.S. confirms the overall macro picture that we have. We have a global slowdown. It’s evident in all of the major economies,” said Peter Garnry, head of equity strategy at Saxo Bank, on a Bloomberg podcast.
Of course I have been saying this exact thing for the past 12 months, but a lot of people have tuned me out because the stock market in the United States has been doing so well.
But the stock market is not an accurate barometer for the real economy. It never has been, and it never will be.
If stocks accurately reflected the health of the U.S. economy, they would have already crashed really hard a long time ago. At this moment, stock prices are completely disconnected from economic reality, and this has many of the most respected names on Wall Street scratching their heads. One of them is Jeffrey Gundlach, the chief executive of DoubleLine Capital. Just check out what he told Reuterson Friday…
Noting the recent run-up in the benchmark Standard & Poor’s 500 index while economic growth remains weak and corporate earnings are stagnant, Gundlach said stock investors have entered a “world of uber complacency.”
The S&P 500 on Friday touched an all-time high of 2,177.09, while the government reported that U.S. gross domestic product in the second quarter grew at a meager 1.2 percent rate.
“The artist Christopher Wool has a word painting, ‘Sell the house, sell the car, sell the kids.’ That’s exactly how I feel – sell everything. Nothing here looks good,” Gundlach said in a telephone interview. “The stock markets should be down massively but investors seem to have been hypnotized that nothing can go wrong.”
So when he says that the stock market “should be down massively” and that it is time to “sell everything”, we should all take him very, very seriously.
All throughout history, a huge decline in corporate earnings has almost always resulted in a huge decline in stock prices. As Jesse Felder has noted, “we have never seen a decline in earnings of this magnitude without at least a 20% fall in stock prices” during the last 50 years.
To any rational observer, it is quite obvious that stock prices should have already started collapsing quite some time ago.
And to a large extent this has already happened around the planet, but here in the United States stocks continue to defy the laws of economics.
But at this point it isn’t going to do much good to warn people about this. Those that could see the danger coming have already pulled their money out of stocks, and most of those that want to stick their heads in the sand and pretend that things are somehow going to be different this time are not likely to be persuaded this late in the game.
In the end, we should all be grateful that this absurd financial bubble has lasted for as long as it has, because stability is much more pleasant than instability. The U.S. economy and the U.S. financial system have enjoyed a prolonged period of stability that has defied all the odds, and let us hope that it lasts for at least a little while longer…