Dealing With the “Visible” Homeless

MOLA:42’s Guide to Hoovervilles (or Dealing With the “Visible” Homeless)

homeless eka

There’s yet another subject of discussion knocking around… and as usual I don’t know exactly where I stand… the modern “Hooverville.”

In principle, a Hooverville can sound like a very good idea: As the Progressive Left sees them they can be places where homeless people can be concentrated to get needed help.

The homeless would have available mental and physical health services… the children would get adequate nutrition and go to school.

The environment would be served by having sewage, washing and cooking facilities.

Sounds like a good idea.

However… as long time readers already know about me… My Dark Thoughts just will not let me take the simple happy route to anywhere.

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The term Hooverville comes from the Great Depression; so named in deep appreciation to President Herbert Hoover due to his making things just so much fun for folks.

Homeless people (and there were millions of them) gathered or were gathered into communities living in tents, shacks and their automobiles.

Hoovervilles varied wherever they sprouted. Some came to be because people could find work and/or food hoovervillenearby. Some were set up by responsible people wanting to help. Some were set up by people wanting to separate the great unwashed from their communities (many guarded by armed men to keep them out of their towns). Some were set up by ranchers and farmers to secure (i.e.: imprison) cheap labor.

In short, a number of them were Concentration Camps (the rest were Refugee Camps).

Please don’t start getting angry about my loose use of words… because I’m not using the term Concentration Camp incorrectly.

In essence… a Concentration Camp is a place you put all your bad eggs in one basket so you can control them.

The first modern Concentration Camps were set up by the British during the Boer War. They were not nice places and the arguments still rage whether they were not nice on purpose, by incompetence or by accident.

Essentially, the British gathered the families of Boer fighters into camps and let them die of disease and/or starvation. No matter the motivation of the British, the camps did convince a lot of Boer fighters to give up (not wishing to have their family members die horribly).

How livable a Concentration Camp is depends on the humanity of those running them.

During World War II the United States (that’s us, folks) and the Nazis both utilized Concentration Camps. We gathered together nearly all the American Citizens of Japanese ancestry we could get our grimy mitts on. Then we sent them (men, women and children) to camps behind barbed wire and surrounded them with guard towers equipped with search lights and machine guns (in case somebody decided they didn’t like it there).

arkley and homeless

The Road to Hell Is Paved With bad Intentions too  (Original photo: Kaci Poor NCJ)

Of course, we did leave out the gassing, starving and working to death features the Nazi’s perfected; so I guess that’s a point in our favor.

In case you believe I am exercising my penchant for drama, just consider the saying, “The Road to Hell Is Paved With Good Intentions”; and how often that has turned out to be true.

Assuming all motivations are noble then there are other issues to discuss. Besides the matter of who pays for our little camping adventure a really thorny problem would be: Where do we put our Hooverville?

Where indeed?

How do we overcome the NIMBY (Not In My Back Yard) factor? No matter where we decide to put our Hooverville there’s going to be somebody unhappy about having a homeless encampment… no matter how well run… in their community.

If people fight tooth and nail to keep a detox facility out of their neighborhoods then how do you think the folks living near a Hooverville will feel?

No problem, we might say. We’ll build it out in the countryside where no one can see it and there is no one to be bothered.

That would solve one difficulty, getting the “Visible Homeless” out of sight.

Here’s the problem; the Visible Homeless are visible because they need to survive. They need to hold cardboard signs at street corners, buy food, buy booze, make drug connections, go to work, etc.

If we put our Hooverville too far off the beaten tracks then guess what? The homeless will not go there unless we move them there by force. And keep them there by force.

Also, we will need to police and govern a group of people not noted for their good behavior and governability.

Yes, we can separate out the disparate elements… the “professional (and very visiblemcdonalds) homeless” from the victims of circumstance: Men, women and children caught up in economic upheavals nearly as traumatic as the Great Depression and wanting to re-enter Middle Class society.

And that would help… as long as they have a Middle Class to go back to.

Hint: A job at McDonalds is not the golden archway to the middle class.

In short, a Hooverville does not solve the problem; a Hooverville only works to solve a symptom of the problem.

Perhaps, though, better than nothing.

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Still, I can’t help but feel some of the people thinking about Hoovervilles are motivated the same way as our early 1930’s forebears; get the homeless out of sight and out of mind:

The problem for them is not that there are homeless but that they can see them be homeless.

So we must keep the riff-raff off the streets. We don’t want to upset the tourists.

What happens to the homeless then?

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Let us try to wrap up this week’s little ramble. What am I trying to get at?

I am not categorically against Hoovervilles. Well run and supported they can do a great deal of good in what is now a terribly bad situation.


The world is not as simple as we would like to have it. The solutions are more difficult and more dangerous to put in place than we tend to imagine.

Not having the homeless visible in front of us may cause us to change focus and use the Hooverville as a Concentration Camp (as opposed to a Refugee Camp).

And… not solving the root problem will mean we shall fail to solve the symptoms of that problem:

Why do the homeless exist in the first place?

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Standard Disclaimer: My opinions are my own and not necessarily those of the Tuluwat Examiner. I am gold fishnot on the Staff of the Tuluwat Examiner. I don’t even know who these people are. However, the Tuluwat Examiner Staff have just learned who will be giving the Invocation at the next Eureka City Council meeting: the Reverend Mrch Chtulaflaat of the Cult of Cthulhu (Reformed). Instead of human sacrifices the Reformed Cult just eats a lot of live goldfish.

But due to their intense interest in the harbor they are considered important supporters to reviving our local maritime interests.

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7 thoughts on “Dealing With the “Visible” Homeless

  1. each municipality needs it’s own designated camping area so people don’t have to squat or camp in the vacant lots and green ways.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. NIMBYism seems like kind of a moot point in the sense that the homeless are populating just about every urban green belt in the county already. I don’t see how bringing a little more infrastructure to some of the areas will hurt. Heck, when Arkley defaults on his taxes, seize some of those properties, and there you go, teady made homeless camps. I don’t hear neighbors of the Betty Chin Day Center complaining, but as a neighbor of Arkleys bridge properties, he better hope the city never asks him for an EIR!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I know let’s continue to do nothing, its working so well!


    • Jack S:

      I’m sorry you came away from the article thinking that.

      It’s not my intention to pass Social Judgement saying, “This is Good,” and, “This is bad.” I’m asking that we think about a serious problem and think carefully.

      Thinking about things superficially is how most of our problems came to be in the first place.

      Doing nothing, of course, would be the worst option we could take.

      I’m sure there are a host of people out there with better ideas that I could ever hope to come up with on my own. I hope to hear from them.

      Liked by 2 people

  4. This page certainly has all of the information and facts I needed concerning this subject and didn’t know who to ask.


  5. I think a distinction must first be made that there are functional homeless people and dysfunctional homeless people.

    Functional homeless people live in a way that doesn’t attract undue public or police attention. They have abillity to stay under the radar by acting unobtrusively. Often they are able to qualify for SSI/SSD, get family support, or remunerative work. So they have a fair degree of financial capability(in consideration that their formal housing expenses are small). They often have some stable social networks or may be ‘adopted’ in a sense by the communities they live in. They’re the ‘kindly bums’ that locals feel good to toss change at, share some food with, or even have perform small services like watch a dog when going into a store. They are homeless but they aren’t ‘a problem’ even if their numbers grow.

    Dysfunctional homeless people attract undue public and police attention for a variety of actions. We all know what many of those actions are. In reality, they aren’t able to act differently. If they were under 18, they would be entitled to public care of the kind that parents are expected to provide. They need that care.

    I think we should provide care to dysfunctional homeless people just as we do minors. That would mean terminating some of their rights as adults and attempting to ‘rear’ them as best we(the public) can. I suppose that mean institutionalizing them in some way, or call it raising them in group homes. I think it could be done in a humane and cost effective way and its realistic because it recognizes that these people need parental type care to live orderly, safely,and productively.

    Liked by 2 people

    • There is plenty of additional care that could be provided without terminating anyone’s rights. It would just take a major change in public attitudes. Perhaps if some of that care was provided in functional ways, that would be more than sufficient to bring some folks back from the brink.

      Liked by 2 people

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