A “Confluence of the Homeless” on Ohio Riverbanks

by Lara

I wanted to add to my last post on slums in warmer climates by adding that informal communities exist in all climates, but I feel the way they manifest themselves in different way. Slums in tropical climates (at least form my experience) seem overwhelmingly massive, pushed to the fringes of urban settlements but in a very inclusive manner. At least in Barranquilla, the massive informal settlements engulf surrounding areas but are generally accepted a a part of the city, albeit a poor area of the city.

Columbus, Ohio may be a temperate climate, but that doesn’t mean shantytowns do not exist. A few years ago, there was a major uprising when the city decided to shut down one of the largest informal settlements, mostly of homeless people that existed on the banks of the Olentangy River, literally in the hub of the city, and close to downtown. Most people had no idea this even existed because a highway passed next to most of the river, and the community was by and large mostly hidden from the public.

http://www.dispatch.com/live/content/local_news/stories/2008/11/29/homeless_birds.ART_ART_11-29-08_B1_9TC2R19.html

http://www.10tv.com/live/content/local/stories/2010/01/06/story-columbus-homeless-camps.html?type=rss&cat=&sid=102

Shantytowns and othe informal settlements seem to exists with a pretty high frequency in the area of appalachia as well, but unlike their neighbors to the south, these seem to be pretty socially marginalized.

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3 Comments»

  jennykane324 wrote @

New York has had it’s share of tent cities and homeless encampments also.
I remember the “Dinkinsvilles” in the East Village that were bulldozed by the city and others that were razed in the desire to push the homeless out of sight. There were several underneath bridges and in subway tunnels. As always, the question is where did the people go? And why wasn’t adequate housing provided?

  galalutteroth wrote @

I think someone mention it in class, but the documentary “Dark Days” by Marc Singer portrays the life of homeless people in living in a New York City tunnel. The documentary is great and the music is by DJ Shadow if any one is interested here is the link to the trailer.

And I think it illustrates rather accurately what Jenny was saying.

  laragheintz wrote @

I worked for about a year for a housing justice coalition in columbus, and the amount of disregard by many institutions that we find in communities across the US is astounding. In many cases, not only are informal encampments razed under government order but any housing legislation that would help people without shelter is continuously axed. Not long before I moved here in September, yet another more permanent sort of residence that was traditionally occupied by residents protected under voucher 8- an Ohio legislation that was the housing solution equivalent of unemployment was ordered to be vacated, as the voucher 8 law was pushed over the years into more prolific forms of non-existence.

One of the problems of newly industrialized countries is this phenomena of the mega-city as people flock to urban centers in waves. This along with statistically significant increases in population and the uneven resource distribution that occurs with massive this explosion of people in disproportionate areas and communities, leads to a lot of the massive informal encampments that result in urban slum sprawls.

It seems that in the US, these communities are often not given much cooperation or chance to thrive. Possibly because we have been “industrialized” longer and and informal settlements seem to form more gradually and on a smaller scale?


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