Under the Hat: A Colder Reality - WICU12 HD WSEE Erie, PA News, Sports, Weather, Events

Under the Hat: A Colder Reality

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If you only used old movies to form your opinion on the life of the hobo, you would probably have a romanticized image someone choosing the open track and open sky over the trappings of society.

With worldly belongings wrapped in a kerchief and tied to a stick, the tramp would whistle his way through life, looking for adventure in the next empty rail car; camaraderie and food at the next open campfire.

Real life, of course is a much colder reality.

We've learned that as we have followed the residents of Tent City.

We first told you about them in June, 20 to 30 squatters who set up living quarters in a grove of trees on C-S-X property near the West 14th Street tracks.

Some of the structures were actually well put together; two-by-four frames with tarps pulled tightly over.

One guy set wooden palettes on their ends side by side, creating a poor man's picket fence around his "yard."

But when C-S-X found out about the camp, the word came down that the campers had to go and this week they complied.

A bulldozer is expected one of these days to make the area permanently uninhabitable.

Yes, homelessness is often accompanied by mental illness and drug and alcohol issues.

But the residents of Tent City also showed a lot of resiliency and even pride in doing the best with what they had.

Walking through one can't help but realize that we can all get by with a lot less than what we think we need.

Next week there is a summit of agency chiefs in the shelter business.

They are concerned that even with an expansion at the City Mission that bed space is already at its limit and winter is coming.

They are trying to recruit churches and others willing to act as emergency shelters.

There have been some efforts to find resources for the people of Tent City but most budgets are already spent.

The residents want to stay together, and so will no doubt move down the track to another suitable area and hustle to reestablish themselves before the winter chill.

There's little that's romantic about homelessness.

The truth is, just about every community in America has a Tent City hidden in it somewhere.

It is further proof of the growing bright line, between those who have, and those who do not.

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