Slab City has replaced the American dream for many middle-class citizens, a dream where opportunities, prosperity, and success have all but disappeared. Beaten down, squatter camps and tent cities are filling with people forced to live off the grid.
Jobless or tired of financially struggling, recession refugees and retirees can no longer afford to pay for food, clothing, rent, mortgages, or insurance. Instead, they gather in places like California's Slab City, about 190 miles southeast of Los Angeles and an hour from the Mexican border, "deep in the badlands of California's poorest county, where the road ends and the sun reigns." Others gather in tent cities, a homeless condition growing since the mortgage mess.California's Slab City is an abandoned WWII Naval base that has become a desert haven, previously called Camp Dunlap. It is the last remnants of a World War II military base; the state-owned property was named from the concrete slabs spread out across the desert floor.At one time, there were about 1,000 dropouts and fugitives living in California's Slab city before the economy went down. Since then, more and more people straggle in looking for a way to escape the stress and political turmoil scheming against the nation. Yahoo!News, the only rule for staying at the camp is, "respect your neighbor, or stay the hell away."The majority of people in Slab City do not use food stamps, as staying at Slab City is free. However, of the few who do use them, they have to pay to use the food bank near them, called an "Administration Fee," to cover the costs of the office workers.Lakewood Tent City, located in the middle of New Jersey woods, was being forced to close until a judge ruled in the camp's favor --- with tents, shacks, trailers and tepees housing about 70 people. Many of the people started living there before Occupy Wall Street began, with one 61-year-old woman who had lost her $100,000-a-year-job and her business, saying, "We're too young for Social Security and too old to be trained for another job," she said recently, standing by a makeshift kitchen table under a tarp outside her tent. "So here we are."People who live in places like Slab City or the camp about 70 miles from New York City range from the chronically homeless to high professionals who lost their businesses --- living there not by choice but because they have nowhere else to go.NOTE: In 2008, MSNBC reported that "Nearly 61 percent of local and state homeless coalitions say they've experienced a rise in homelessness since the foreclosure crisis began in 2007, according to a report by the National Coalition for the Homeless."
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