today I walked to the tent city in greenville sc

today I walked to the tent city in greenville sc

tent city greenville sc

tent city greenville sc

 

I have been hearing a little about what some call the tent city. So, a very good friend and I went there today to see what is happening. It was about 19 degrees Fahrenheit, and windy. The small tent city had no direct sunlight while we were there so the shade made it feel colder. The people we met had been there all through the night. And some for weeks and even months. I was cold within five minutes of getting out of the car. My fingers hurt after about ten min.

Earlier in the month the media (including some of my friends) did some stories, which varied in opinions. I wanted to see it for myself. I have seen extreme poverty in places like India and China, and am familiar with how terrible it can be. No doubt they were cold. Some had a lot to say and others very little. It seems the area is divided into two or three groups. The two major groups are divided by the tracks.

The people mentioned they did receive some attention around the time of the media stories, but much less since then. One man handed me the greenville news very unhappy and said that the story was not right, nor did reflect the true situation. I understand everyone has opinions, and no doubt there are many tough reasons why someone would be living under a bridge in a tent in the dead of winter. For me it is rather hard to believe it is happening in Greenville, SC.

One of the men said, people stopped helping after the “other side of the tracks” group mentioned having a yard sale. He said people were giving baby clothes (and there aren’t currently babies in the tent city) and often it seemed as if people were dropping off things that were of little use to their situation. Even more of the items delivered were in very poor shape (they were not ungrateful). With all of it piled up some hoped they could sell items to have money to purchase more needed items.

┬áIn what many might consider inhumane circumstances, it seemed so destitute and cold. I suppose there is no doubt we are living in a very difficult time. So I wondered who is responsible? Would it be the state, the city, the nonprofits, or humanity (or an individual thing)? No doubt there are some who choose to live this way, but I know one thing for certain; none of them wanted to be out there in the cold tonight. One man who would not let me photograph him, said it was because he was ashamed and didn’t want the world to see him. He also said he hoped he could live through the night when it gets cold again this evening.

People left propane tanks there for them. They said small ones last about 2 hours, and the ones that are used for grills etc., the kind you can get at the grocery store, last 5-6 hours to provide heat for one of the tents. The primary source of heat when we were there were the 55 gallon drums you see in the photographs. You had to be within 6-8 feet to benefit from the fire. They also cook and make hot drinks with it in the rusty pots seen on the cans.

They have a small pantry/kitchen that looks like it could last them a day or two. I estimate there are perhaps as many as 100 living there. A women said “Most of the places they can eat cannot promise them they can be fed if they show up, and, the ones that can make them wait in lines out in the cold”. And they mentioned it is a far walk in the cold. She also said some shelters charge over $50 a week, and she doesn’t have any source of income. I know there are many great programs in Greenville. I know that people bus their homeless from other places to greenville because of our facilities (some there told me this). I also don’t think that our nonprofits and shelters are solely responsible for this burden. And I am not pointing any fingers. I just know it seems to be a real issue and it is very sad no matter where you stand.

I heard a foster child I had photographed years ago might be at this place, but I didn’t see him.

I wanted to see, and thought you might be interested in what I found. I must admit, it was not an easy walk back to the vehicle. My cameras seemed much heavier knowing I would be warm tonight.

Also, had a thought I failed to mention on a positive note. Greenville is a super awesome place to live. It has been voted so many times and ways they best place to be for all kinds of reasons. So with that said….

I think perhaps, this topic could be a growing pain of sorts. People hear of its prosperity, and come. People “ship” those in need here because we have the perceived means. As the landmark gets larger on the map, we must expect that we will face new and interesting issues one might not expect nor be prepared for. This thinking makes me think of the days of the gold rush. Is the grass greener in greenville?… I think so.

Oh, People asked what are the useful items. Today when I was there, they had no clean water (and ‘dirty’ stream was frozen solid). Wood, 55 gallon drum (they had 2) Propane tanks. Ways to keep heat in and wind out of tents. Canned food etc..

tent city greenville sc

tent city greenville sc

the tents under the bridge

the tents under the bridge

tent city greenville sc

tent city greenville sc

patrick cox photography-1021698

this is how they make warm water for tea or coffee in rusty pots

this is how they make warm water for tea or coffee in rusty pots

warmth and coffee

warmth and coffee

a woman who is homeless

a woman who is homeless

tent city greenville sc

tent city greenville sc

tent city greenville sc

tent city greenville sc

tent city greenville sc

tent city greenville sc

tent city greenville sc

tent city greenville sc

tent city greenville sc

tent city greenville sc