Monday, February 23, 2009

Tent Cities in the US?


I was walking with my neighbor this morning down our little country lane with our dogs. Past my house there is only one other house that is occupied.

One house is in foreclosure and the two duplexes that are always rented are empty. Nobody has been to visit two of the three vacation homes. And I am about to kick out my tenant in the attached apartment to my house because she is two months behind on the rent.

So where are all the people that used to occupy these homes? My neighbor said that tent cities were springing up in all the warmer locations in our country. I was shocked. Surely tent cities are something that happen in third world countries or when there is a natural disaster like Katrina or migrant workers. But a quick Google on the subject after the walk assured me I was wrong and my neighbor right. Richmond, Virgina; San Francisco and Los Angeles and San Diego, California among a few. Even in Ohio people are setting up tents on any available spot of land. It is cold in Ohio.

This all raises the question as to whether Obama's housing bill goes far enough. In addition to preventing people being thrown from their homes we obviously need some rent support. After two bad tenants in a row in the last six months I am reluctant to rent again to anyone. It is one thing to not have the income and another to have it cost me money. The current delinquent tenant owes $586.00 on electricity.

And that bill is for two months. I frankly was shocked at my own electricity bill and I have never heated my house up beyond 62 F unless I was burning wood in my wood stove. Tomorrow I am going the the utility company and see if we can work out a payment schedule. Per kilowatt electricity went up again this year. So in addition to rent support maybe the President needs to have a long, hard talk with the utility companies.

I do have two acres of land so maybe instead of renting out the apartment I should rent tent space once the snow melts. It would seem rather funny with nine empty homes for rent that people would be in tents in my backyard. But it is not just that individuals cannot come with with deposits and first and last months rent but that they cannot pay the utilities once they move in.

This does sound like the great depression or the dust bowl days?