Category Archives: Michigan

Tent camp reveals social inequality in Ann Arbor, Michigan

By Mitch Marcus and Janel Flechsig
20 February 2012

Last week, a World Socialist Web Site reporting team visited Camp Take Notice, a homeless encampment in Ann Arbor, Michigan, to speak with residents and document conditions. The tent camp is home to about 35 people. It is located on a small triangle of wooded land, lined on two sides by a freeway and on a third by a narrow county road.

A steep, icy trail next to one of the freeway overpasses leads to the camp. This treacherous route is the only way supplies, donations, residents and visitors can enter. The collection of tents, tarps and small shacks that constitute the residents’ only shelter is hidden from view behind brush and pine trees and is undetectable from the road.

When the reporting team arrived at the camp at 9:30 in the morning, the temperature was in the mid-20s (Fahrenheit) and about three inches of snow covered the ground. Many of the residents were still in their tents but a few were gathered in the camp’s common tent around a wood-burning stove. Several residents spoke to the WSWS about their life at the camp and the circumstances that had brought them there. Their stories paint a devastating portrait of the social insecurity faced by millions in the United States.

Camp Take Notice is the only organized tent camp in Michigan, one of 19 such camps in the United States. It is supported by a 501©3 non-profit organization, but residents reported many other informal camps. When Alanna and her fiancé lost their apartment several months ago, she said they camped alone before moving to Take Notice.

“My family has been in low poverty since I was born,” Alanna said. “My mom took care of me and my twin brother. Low Medicaid and high rent always led us back down. All those foreclosures while they give trillions to the banks. The system’s screwed up, that’s for sure.”