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Despite talk of recovery and revival of the housing market, foreclosures are on the rise and getting worse as the unemployment crisis deepens. There were 360,000 foreclosures in July, a 7 percent increase over June and 32 percent above the year before. A record 13.6 percent of households are either in foreclosure or behind in their mortgage payments. More and more foreclosures are on prime mortgages of workers who have lost their jobs.
As workers lose their jobs, homelessness and tent cities are sprouting up around the country. Fearing mass rebellion, many municipalities are moving to legalize tent cities around the country. Examples are Nashville, Tenn.; Ontario (near Los Angeles), Ventura and Sacramento in California; Lacy, Wash.; and Champaign, Ill. These are among the many localities either providing services to the homeless or allowing charitable institutions to do so.
New York City and Seattle, on the other hand, have moved sharply to repress the growing homeless movement.
In Nashville, on any given night there are 4,000 homeless people, according to city authorities, and 785 shelter beds. There are now at least 30 known tent encampments in Nashville.
David Olson, 47 years old, is typical of the new homeless population. He and his spouse wound up living under a Nashville overpass after he lost his job making cement pipes in Iowa. They came to Nashville for a construction job that did not exist. “I’ve got five years experience in carpentry and 10 years roofing and I can’t find a job.” (Wall Street Journal, Aug. 11) The city and nonprofit organizations found housing for 25 people. David Olson was not one of them.
The only way to overcome this crisis is for the working class and all the oppressed to unite in struggle. The time of waiting for the Democratic Party leadership to reverse the fortunes of the workers must be ended. The time of waiting for capitalism to revive itself and bring back boom times is over.