By JR on Saturday, August 06, 2011
In scenes reminiscent of the Great Depression these are the ramshackle homes of the desperate and destitute U.S. families who have set up their own 'Tent City' only an hour from Manhattan. More than 50 homeless people have joined the community within New Jersey's forests as the economic crisis has wrecked their American dream.
And as politicians in Washington trade blows over their country's £8.8 trillion debt, the prospect of more souls joining this rag tag group grows by the day.
Building their own tarpaulin tents, Native American teepees and makeshift balsa wood homes, every one of the Tent City residents has lost their job.
These people have been reduced to living on handouts from the local church and friendly restaurants and the community is a sad look at troubles caused as the world's most powerful country struggles with its finances.
'We have been in and out of the camp for a year,' said ex-hotel worker Burt Haut, 43, who lives with his wife, ex-teacher Barbara, 48 in a tent styled like a teepee from the Old West. 'Our financial difficulties since the credit crisis three years ago have caused us to camp on public ground, at the back of churches and down the backs of closed down stores. 'We have had help from our friends and family, but we have run that well dry.
'We are trying to get back on our feet and with help from the camp leadership we hope to get back onto a social security scheme or help with some assisted housing.'
Ravaged by the loss of their jobs and their homes, the residents of Tent City struggle to get by without day-to-day luxuries that we take for granted such as food on the table and a roof over their heads. Ex-minister Steve Brigham, 50, runs Tent City, which consists of a dirt road running through a two-acre encampment which has flowerpots laid out front of proud tents and homes.
Functioning as near to a normal town as possible, Tent City is governed by democratic rules agreed by all the residents.