Invisible People: Homelessness Is Quietly Exploding in Suburban America

As poverty creeps into the American suburbs, homelessness escalates, but few are talking about it. Not quite city, not quite farmland, these towns that were once the very pinnacle of the American Dream now buckle under the pressure of a downward economic spiral. Like a simmering pot, these troubled waters have been threatening to boil over for longer than a decade.

How has homelessness managed to remain in the shadows of these picket fences and tree-lined streets? Could it be that in this particular instance, our perception overshadows reality? On the surface, many suburban towns have held onto their luster. But beneath that surface, the world we once associated with safety, home-ownership and comfort is falling in on itself.

Suburbia: A Tale as Old as 1945

The tall tale of the coveted suburban life finds its roots in post-war America, 1945. Prior to this time period, only a small percentage of American residents lived in suburban regions. That equates to approximately 13% of the population at that time. Mass suburbanization didn't take place until swarms of war veterans returned to the US seeking affordable housing for which there was a shortage in the cities. Using mass production in the housing sector, crafty architects did their best to build quickly, with the future in mind. With multiple housing units created in a short timeframe, the biggest obstacle they faced was making the suburbs more appealing.

Fortunately, they had two major technological advancements practically catapulting suburbia into superstardom. First was the automobile, a viable alternative to the streetcar, for veterans with paychecks to burn and newly working wives. The second was cinema. Hollywood cameras would spend years airbrushing suburbia into the backdrop of major motion pictures. Henceforth, the suburbs would serve as the emblematic portrait of all-American life in everything from horror films to Sci-Fi masterpieces to heartfelt dramas. And while this portrait would drastically change with each decade, suburbia would remain a cardboard cutout of itself in feature films leading all the way up to modern times.

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Courtesy of Invisible People

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