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March 20, 2009

Slumdog America: A Virtual Tour

Camp Quixote, a homeless encampment in Olympia, California, February 2007.
Photo: televiseus on Flickr using Creative Commons

by Sara Tucker

The Oscar-winning film Slumdog Millionaire has spiked interest and debate in so-called "slum tourism" in places like Mumbai and Rio: Is it exploitative?, asks National Geographic Traveler this month (the consensus: It depends). Meanwhile, a March 6 photo essay about Sacramento's tent city has generated some 80 comments at the U.K's MailOnline. We decided to take a cue from the foreign media and look at our own backyard. For a virtual tour of Americans struggling to keep a roof over their heads, click on the links below. Their stories are courageous and eye-opening.

"A Home in the Colonias": Inside a jumble of poverty, Texans build a future. While the jerry-built shacks may look crude, they are often the works in progress of determined parents willing to spend decades to create a heart for their extended families. New York Times audio slideshow by Erik Eckholm and Michael Stravato. (For complete article, click here.)

Two videos on Seattle's Nickelsville: "Pink Tents in Seattle" by "Nathan" for CNN and "Robert Brenot Show Us His Home" by Moises Mendoza. "It's one big family," says Brenot, "and we're all here to stop homelessness."

"Former addict gives homeless veterans a second chance": Story behind Stand Down House, reported by CNN. One in three homeless adults has served in the military, and more than 150,000 veterans nationwide are homeless on any given night, according to the Veterans Administration (video link is at top of page).

"No one chooses to be homeless": A young woman's story of how she became homeless at the age of 12, filmed by HomelessYouthAmongUs.

"Homeless in Miami": Story of Umoja, from Blog Like You Give a Damn: The official blog of Architecture for Humanity Minnesota. Scroll down for the video by Laura Rivera and Matt Mireles. The Miami-Dade County planning department estimates Miami will need 294,200 new housing units by 2025, 42 percent of them for "very low- or low-income households."

Homeless America: Photo montage from Newportliving99.

Reading list:
*Shantytown USA: Liberty City's embattled Umoja Village gives hope and shelter to the homeless (South Florida Sun-Sentinel)
* Web sites of Dignity Village, River Haven, Camp Quixote, Take Back the Land and Dome Village.


I totally agree -- you don't have to travel away from the US if you want to see people living in poverty.

You may also be interested in this slideshow of the "real" (i.e. not the Hollywood) slums of India:

click to post a comment >

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