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February, 2007

Spirit of the Revolution: New Tent City Formed in Fla.
 
photo
At the homelessÂ’ tent city in St. Petersburg, Fla..
PHOTO/CHRIS ERNESTO, http://stpeteforpeace.org
 

Following are excerpts from a press release issued by tent city residents in St. Petersburg, Florida on January 26. The tent city was established on December 22 and has won national news coverage for its persistence in the face of virulent attacks by city officials and police. Rev. Bruce Wright of Refuge Ministry has been instrumental in organizing community and religious support.

We are mostly the original members of tent city. Some of us are still currently homeless and some of us have been able to find temporary housing by combining the one-month voucher and the money that we had been saving. We stand together to do this press release as we all recognize that whether homeless or temporarily housed, that most of America are only two paychecks or a catastrophic illness away from being homeless themselves.

In less than a month, we have moved from in front of St. Vincent's to the tent city on 4th Ave N, back to in front of St. Vincent's, and now to this new location. We would prefer to live in a warm clean apartment with a bathroom and kitchen. Many of us have lived in beautiful homes with wonderful families. We are living in tents not because we want to but because there is no available low cost housing, and tents, clustered together provide us with both some safety from the weather and more importantly safety from those who would want to harm us because of their prejudices and ignorance ...

We are not trying to make a political statement or to embarrass anyone. It was never our intent to make our plight political, but tent city has become political because our existence reflects the inadequacy of this city to provide low cost housing. We are just the most vivid examples of the city's failure to address the issues of inadequate low cost housing combined with low paying jobs ...

Problems have plagued us since. First, the City decided to cut down our tents. This is AFTER a promise that if we consolidated the two tent cities to one IN FRONT of St. Vincent's that they would allow us time to negotiate with them over the fire marshal's concerns. WE complied and they lied! The police destroyed the only safety we had. We rebuilt, and as the destruction of our tents by the police made national news, hundreds of people came forward with love, support, and more tents; and we thank each one...

We have always been a self-governing community. We have our own contracts that we wrote for the residents of the original tent city. In the 4th Ave main tent city, we have had our own security that worked together with the City of St. Petersburg police force, and most importantly, we had a community that worked on consensus and respect. The residents of tent city made the decisions and took the responsibility, and the advocates who chose to help worked WITH us to create a model community and respected and listened to our wishes...

We have enough problems in our lives working 40 to 80 hours a week at day labor trying to save enough for first, last and security for an apartment. We fear for our lives as the murderers of two of our fellow ex-tent city residents still roam the city Â…

We ask the media to please keep telling our story. You have shared our stories with the people of St. Pete, and treated us with the dignity that all human beings are due, and we thank you. And so we move to this new tent city in the hopes of reestablishing our initial goal, to create a safe and democratic community that will allow us to continue to work and partake of the American Dream, and then allow others to replace us as we move into apartments and homes. We had a model that worked and we hope to reestablish it again on 18th St. We invite the press, all social service agencies and any advocates who want to participate. We have only one criteria, respect us as equals as we do you.

With love,
The residents and ex-residents of the 4th Ave. St. Tent City


The significance of the growing homelessness in America

A proliferation of Tent Cities is sweeping the country. The number of people taking over homes in violation of legal ordinances is growing. The number of people still living in trailer parks (originally to be temporary housing) on the Gulf Coast has tripled. Today's homelessness is proof of the immorality, unwillingness and inability of capitalism to provide for people. Homelessness in today's economic and political conditions is incurable. It results from the liquidation of jobs resulting from electronic production. These jobs are gone forever. As we fight to make the government responsible to provide housing for the poor, we must also show that ultimately, the only solution is the reorganization of society based on distribution of the necessities according to need. Write for the People's Tribune!

- From the Editors


This article originated in the People's Tribune
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