The Tunnel People That Live Under The Streets Of America


Did you know that there are thousands upon thousands of homeless people that are living underground beneath the streets of major U.S. cities?  It is happening in Las Vegas, it is happening in New York City and it is even happening in Kansas City.  As the economy crumbles, poverty in the United States is absolutely exploding and so is homelessness.  In addition to the thousands of “tunnel people” living under the streets of America, there are also thousands that are living in tent cities, there are tens of thousands that are living in their vehicles and there are more than a million public school children that do not have a home to go back to at night.  The federal government tells us that the recession “is over” and that “things are getting better”, and yet poverty and homelessness in this country continue to rise with no end in sight.  So what in the world are things going to look like when the next economic crisis hits?

The Tunnel People That Live Under The Streets Of America

When I heard that there were homeless people living in a network of underground tunnels beneath the streets of Kansas City, I was absolutely stunned.  I have relatives that live in that area.  I never thought of Kansas City as one of the more troubled cities in the United States.

But according to the Daily Mail, police recently discovered a network of tunnels under the city that people had been living in…

Below the streets of Kansas City, there are deep underground tunnels where a group of vagrant homeless people lived in camps.

These so-called homeless camps have now been uncovered by the Kansas City Police, who then evicted the residents because of the unsafe environment.

Authorities said these people were living in squalor, with piles of garbage and dirty diapers left around wooded areas.

The saddest part is the fact that authorities found dirty diapers in the areas near these tunnels.  That must mean that babies were being raised in that kind of an environment.

Unfortunately, this kind of thing is happening all over the nation.  In recent years, the tunnel people of Las Vegas have received quite a bit of publicity all over the world.  It has been estimated that more than 1,000 people live in the massive network of flood tunnels under the city…

Deep beneath Vegas’s glittering lights lies a sinister labyrinth inhabited by poisonous spiders and a man nicknamed The Troll who wields an iron bar.

But astonishingly, the 200 miles of flood tunnels are also home to 1,000 people who eke out a living in the strip’s dark underbelly.

Some, like Steven and his girlfriend Kathryn, have furnished their home with considerable care – their 400sq ft ‘bungalow’ boasts a double bed, a wardrobe and even a bookshelf.

Could you imagine living like that?  Sadly, for an increasing number of Americans a “normal lifestyle” is no longer an option.  Either they have to go to the homeless shelters or they have to try to eke out an existence on their own any way that they can.

In New York City, authorities are constantly trying to root out the people that live in the tunnels under the city and yet they never seem to be able to find them all.  The following is from a New York Post article about the “Mole People” that live underneath New York City…

The homeless people who live down here are called Mole People. They do not, as many believe, exist in a separate, organized underground society. It’s more of a solitary existence and loose-knit community of secretive, hard-luck individuals.

The New York Post followed one homeless man known as “John Travolta” on a tour through the underground world.  What they discovered was a world that is very much different from what most New Yorkers experience…

In the tunnels, their world is one of malt liquor, tight spaces, schizophrenic neighbors, hunger and spells of heat and cold. Travolta and the others eat fairly well, living on a regimented schedule of restaurant leftovers, dumped each night at different times around the neighborhood above his foreboding home.

Even as the Dow hits record high after record high, poverty in New York City continues to rise at a very frightening pace.  Incredibly, the number of homeless people sleeping in the homeless shelters of New York City has increased by a whopping 19 percent over the past year.

In many of our major cities, the homeless shelters are already at maximum capacity and are absolutely packed night after night.  Large numbers of homeless people are often left to fend for themselves.

That is one reason why we have seen the rise of so many tent cities.

Yes, the tent cities are still there, they just aren’t getting as much attention these days because they do not fit in with the “economic recovery” narrative that the mainstream media is currently pushing.

In fact, many of the tent cities are larger than ever.  For example, you can check out a Reuters video about a growing tent city in New Jersey that was posted on YouTube at the end of March right here.  A lot of these tent cities have now become permanent fixtures, and unfortunately they will probably become much larger when the next major economic crisis strikes.

But perhaps the saddest part of all of this is the massive number of children that are suffering night after night.

For the first time ever, more than a million public school children in the United States are homeless.  That number has risen by 57 percent since the 2006-2007 school year.

So if things are really “getting better”, then why in the world do we have more than a million public school children without homes?

These days a lot of families that have lost their homes have ended up living in their vehicles.  The following is an excerpt from a 60 Minutes interview with one family that is living in their truck…

This is the home of the Metzger family. Arielle,15. Her brother Austin, 13. Their mother died when they were very young. Their dad, Tom, is a carpenter. And, he’s been looking for work ever since Florida’s construction industry collapsed. When foreclosure took their house, he bought the truck on Craigslist with his last thousand dollars. Tom’s a little camera shy – thought we ought to talk to the kids – and it didn’t take long to see why.

Pelley: How long have you been living in this truck?

Arielle Metzger: About five months.

Pelley: What’s that like?

Arielle Metzger: It’s an adventure.

Austin Metzger: That’s how we see it.

Pelley: When kids at school ask you where you live, what do you tell ’em?

Austin Metzger: When they see the truck they ask me if I live in it, and when I hesitate they kinda realize. And they say they won’t tell anybody.

Arielle Metzger: Yeah it’s not really that much an embarrassment. I mean, it’s only life. You do what you need to do, right?

But after watching a news report or reading something on the Internet about these people we rapidly forget about them because they are not a part of “our world”.

Another place where a lot of poor people end up is in prison.  In a previous article, I detailed how the prison population in the United States has been booming in recent years.  If you can believe it, the United States now has approximately 25 percent of the entire global prison population even though it only has about 5 percent of the total global population.

And these days it is not just violent criminals that get thrown into prison.  If you lose your job and get behind on your bills, you could be thrown into prison as well.  The following is from a recent CBS News article

Roughly a third of U.S. states today jail people for not paying off their debts, from court-related fines and fees to credit card and car loans, according to the American Civil Liberties Union. Such practices contravene a 1983 United States Supreme Court ruling that they violate the Constitutions’s Equal Protection Clause.

Some states apply “poverty penalties,” such as late fees, payment plan fees and interest, when people are unable to pay all their debts at once. Alabama charges a 30 percent collection fee, for instance, while Florida allows private debt collectors to add a 40 percent surcharge on the original debt. Some Florida counties also use so-called collection courts, where debtors can be jailed but have no right to a public defender. In North Carolina, people are charged for using a public defender, so poor defendants who can’t afford such costs may be forced to forgo legal counsel.

The high rates of unemployment and government fiscal shortfalls that followed the housing crash have increased the use of debtors’ prisons, as states look for ways to replenish their coffers. Said Chettiar, “It’s like drawing blood from a stone. States are trying to increase their revenue on the backs of the poor.”

If you are poor, the United States can be an incredibly cold and cruel place.  Mercy and compassion are in very short supply.

The middle class continues to shrink and poverty continues to grow with each passing year.  According to the U.S. Census Bureau, approximately one out of every six Americans is now living in poverty.  And if you throw in those that are considered to be “near poverty”, that number becomes much larger.  According to the U.S. Census Bureau, more than 146 million Americans are either “poor” or “low income”.

For many more facts about the rapid increase of poverty in this country, please see my previous article entitled “21 Statistics About The Explosive Growth Of Poverty In America That Everyone Should Know“.

But even as poverty grows, it seems like the hearts of those that still do have money are getting colder.  Just check out what happened recently at a grocery store that was in the process of closing down in Augusta, Georgia

Residents filled the parking lot with bags and baskets hoping to get some of the baby food, canned goods, noodles and other non-perishables. But a local church never came to pick up the food, as the storeowner prior to the eviction said they had arranged. By the time the people showed up for the food, what was left inside the premises—as with any eviction—came into the ownership of the property holder, SunTrust Bank.

The bank ordered the food to be loaded into dumpsters and hauled to a landfill instead of distributed. The people that gathered had to be restrained by police as they saw perfectly good food destroyed. Local Sheriff Richard Roundtree told the news “a potential for a riot was extremely high.”

Can you imagine watching that happen?

But of course handouts and charity are only temporary solutions.  What the poor in this country really need are jobs, and unfortunately there has not been a jobs recovery in the United States since the recession ended.

In fact, the employment crisis looks like it is starting to take another turn for the worse.  The number of layoffs in the month of March was 30 percent higher than the same time a year ago.

Meanwhile, small businesses are indicating that hiring is about to slow down significantly.  According to a recent survey by the National Federation of Independent Businesses, small businesses in the United States are extremely pessimistic right now.  The following is what Goldman Sachs had to say about this survey…

Components of the survey were consistent with the decline in headline optimism, as the net percent of respondents planning to hire fell to 0% (from +4%), those expecting higher sales fell to -4% (from +1%), and those reporting that it is a good time to expand ticked down to +4% (from +5%). The net percent of respondents expecting the economy to improve was unchanged at -28%, a very depressed level. However, on the positive side, +25% of respondents plan increased capital spending [ZH: With Alcoa CapEx spending at a 2 year low]. Small business owners continue to place poor sales, taxes, and red tape at the top of their list of business problems, as they have for the past several years.

So why aren’t our politicians doing anything to fix this?

For example, why in the world don’t they stop millions of our jobs from being sent out of the country?

Well, the truth is that they don’t think we have a problem.  In fact, U.S. Senator Ron Johnson recently said that U.S. trade deficits “don’t matter”.

He apparently does not seem alarmed that more than 56,000 manufacturing facilities have been shut down in the United States since 2001.

And since the last election, the White House has seemed to have gone into permanent party mode.

On Tuesday, another extravagant party will be held at the White House.  It is being called “In Performance at the White House: Memphis Soul”, and it is going to include some of the biggest names in the music industry…

As the White House has previously announced, Justin Timberlake (who will be making his White House debut), Al Green, Ben Harper, Queen Latifah, Cyndi Lauper, Joshua Ledet, Sam Moore, Charlie Musselwhite, Mavis Staples, and others will be performing at the exclusive event.

And so who will be paying for all of this?

You and I will be.  Even as the Obamas cry about all of the other “spending cuts” that are happening, they continue to blow millions of taxpayer dollars on wildly extravagant parties and vacations.

Overall, U.S. taxpayers will spend well over a billion dollars on the Obamas this year.

I wonder what the tunnel people that live under the streets of America think about that.

This article first appeared at The Economic Collapse.

33 Responses

  1. Chris Harwell says:

    You want to blame all this on Obama, you fucking twit. It’s George W. Bush’s fault for staging 9/11 so he could go to war and make his daddy proud, screwing us all over in the process with an awful recession/depression. Obama could never fix all that W. destroyed, nor could anyone. And FYI, ALL Presidents have galas at the White House you nimrod. You act like “the Obamas” are just wasting tons of money, which couldn’t be further from the truth. You’re just another misfit idiot trying to spread a bunch of misinformation because you’re a fucking racist who doesn’t know what the fuck is going on, much less what the hell you’re talking about.

    • Kharma2k says:

      Absolute agree the author comes across as a racist nitwit. If the author cannot remember what happened after the election was stolen by the Supreme Court, he should not attempt to fix blame for our crisis which was caused by two illegal, unfunded wars and the greed of banksters and corporations who now write all our laws and place their profits in tax shelters.

  2. Archie1954 says:

    This current egregious situation in the US is a direct result of overwhelming greed! You will not find comparable situations in the rest of the first world because these other nations have decent social safety nets. Only the US and some third world, poorer and despotic, post colonial countries have such horrible social problems centered on poverty. Why is that? Because the elite in these countries, including the US, have carved out the great bulk of the wealth of the economy for themselves. Why else?

  3. Amber Dunks says:

    When they talk about cities, they leave out Portland, Oregon which has a houseless rest area on the corner of 4th and W Burnside right by the China Town gates called Right 2 Dream Too. They are currently being fine $1300 a month by the city government for being a “recreational campsite” although all they are is the homeless helping the homeless. There is a city wide camping ban along with a sit/lie ordinance that makes it illegal for people to sleep anywhere outside. This is combined with the problem of having just a few hundred shelter beds available compared to having over 4,000 homeless people. They don’t want people outside but they don’t want to fix the problem either.

  4. Clementyne La Llorona says:

    When I was younger, at the age of 14 I began living in the tunnels under the freeways in Phoenix, AZ. I find a lot of what is written here to be not only inaccurate but offensive. Honestly, my life in the tunnels was one of the happiest and most adventurous times in my life. Though I did not live with my birth family, I did live with a number of homeless youth and we took care of each other. It was the first time that I had ever felt like I was really part of a family. Granted there was the occasional person who would wander into the tunnels, looking for a place to sleep out of the rain or protecting them from the miserable heat. However, theses individuals never stayed long and were never of any trouble to any of us.

    I am no longer homeless and have not been for about 10 years. But it still makes me absolutely sick when I hear about cops trying to run people out of the tunnels, destroying tent cities, mass arresting happening in largely populated homeless “hot spots”.

    We, as a country, recognize that the economy is in a disastrous state and many have lost everything they have as a result. Yet, those who are surviving with what little life has to offer them right now are often shamed and painted in a light that makes them appear as if they are doing something wrong for getting by. There may be laws that prohibit squatting in tunnels or outlawing urban camping, but what other options are there when shelters are overcrowded and there’s no money coming in to pay for a more conventional place to sleep? I find it so incredibly shameful that so little has been done about this. Even now, I am still a mere paycheck or two from losing everything, just like so many others. Yet there are people out there that live so lavishly and extravagantly that they are completely removed from the poverty in this country and seem to be ultimately unaware of the reality of homelessness that so many face. Parents are shamed for living in these condition with their children, but what alternatives are we offering them? There are so few jobs available, and many of these individuals don’t have the skills to compete right now. However, even if they do apply for jobs, which many do, most don’t have a contact number, or clothes to interview in, or anyone to leave their children with, or the means to shower everyday so that they may show up to work looking presentable, or transportation, or money to pay for bus fare, etc.. Not to mention the amount of homeless individuals suffering from serious mental illness that make it incapable for them to work a job. What does the upper/middle class suggest for them? There are so many variables that need to be considered when assessing someones living situation.

    Not only have I personally been homeless, but I have spent the past 8 years working in social services, even starting up a homeless outreach program myself. And I can tell you for a fact that it’s just not enough. Not while so many live so frivolously, spending money on materialistic things that simply do nothing to actually improve ones quality of life. Instead of buying the latest cell phone, iPad or computer for each member of the family, households could be donating some resources and being of service. I’m a single parent living paycheck to paycheck and I still donate money to organizations monthly and I donate my time to being of service and teaching my daughter to be of service. If everyone contributed some instead of waiting for the government to jump in and solve the problem we could accomplish so much. But that doesn’t happen, and there are so few that are willing to actually help, even in they have very little to offer. Which sickens me. The people of this country are in desperate need of new priorities and compassion among the American population is in short supply. I suggest that everyone reading this article look up their local homeless shelters, food banks, outreach services and find ways to be of service and help become a part of the solution rather than sitting at home shaking your head in disapproval of those that have had no other options for themselves of their family but to resort to living in tunnels, cars, etc..

    • Rhonda Hunt says:


      I so agree with you. If every American citizen that was truly able could do something, it would all collectively be a BIG thing. We are creative. We could come up with some awesome and amazing ideas, outside of Big Government telling us what we can and can not do.

      Rhonda Hunt

      • Chris Harwell says:

        the best thing that could happen is slowly happening already, a redistribution of wealth; we need to speed up the process by just robbing the rich and giving it to the poor, because they stole it anyway; if you are in any kind of business as a profession, you are basically screwing over other people to make money, and they are all driven by greed. I say we play monopoly, make all money obsolete, make a new money, and give it all out EQUALLY!!! then let those rich bastards earn some money LEGALLY and MORALLY and see what hard work REALLY is! they’re just a bunch of liars and crooks

  5. teun says:

    Apologies I take this opportunity for self promotion….
    Some of the info in this article is correct, but many inaccuracies as well. The underground homeless are often sensationalized and romanticized in superficial articles by sloppy journalists.

    As an anthropologist.journalist, I lived 5 months in an underground homeless community in New York

    The book I wrote describes as honest and truthfully as possible the New York Tunnel People in the mid nineties:

    Marc Singer made the excellent documentary ‘Dark Days’ about the same subject:

  6. aj weishar says:

    These people are all around us. Most people don’t notice unless they have worked with the poor. They live along urban freeways and interstates in the foliage. They live in vehicles in the parking lots of large shopping malls and strip malls. They live in foreclosed buildings and houses. Some of the backpackers you see walking the trails in parks and wildlife areas live deep in the woods. They stay on the side of rivers where there are no roads or bike or walking trails. If you stay in a river valley above the flood line, the trees keep the winds low, and there’s plenty of fish, wild game, and natural vegetation to live on. We have almost 100 million unemployed, no longer in the system, and many have migrated off the grid.

  7. mark says:

    So ??? Where did they go? Where do they live now after they were evicted from a safe place where they could survive and stay out of the weather? Why do they evict them at all if they have no solution? It doesn’t make sense.

  8. Mohamed Sherif says:

    Why all of you are so shocked by this report, I’ve watched all of this drama in “Poor America”.
    unfortunately, The US pas to much money on military budget, elections campaign and human rights, and they forget the PEOPLE.

  9. Sheree says:

    Interesting. My husband and I had a very profitable business keeping about 150 such people employed. Who in turn had babysitters, house keepers, hairdressers, and bought cars. Etc. then along came Continuing Resolution. Our small business eventually couldn’t bear the massive tax hikes and budget cuts of this administration, so we had to lay off ALL of our employees. Some lost their homes. Some got divorced. Some got very sick without the excellent medical benefits we provided free of charge. What about us? Well we aren’t exactly throwing money around anymore. But we weathered the storm. We are survivors. The point is…. Capitalism was a great thing. Yes. It was especially nice for those who worked the hardest (my husband worked about 100 hrs a week and invested a ton of start up money into this company) but it also trickled down to EVERYONE ELSE. Too bad Obama has people so brainwashed.

    • Nay says:

      I call BULL. You took people from the gutter and were giving FREE healthcare insurance and high paying salaries to 150 of them?? Even the ones with dependencies or limited skills? Housekeepers, hairdressers and cars? Not even the average American company or educated and continually employed “hard worker” can have all of these things all the time… even during the Bush years. Right, because all it takes, always, is HARD WORK just like you, because you’re SURVIVORS. Pull yourself up by the bootstraps, right?

      The recession started way before Obama. Nice little story and nice use of the term “trickle down.” Thanks for pushing your political ideology in an article about the tragedy of homelessness.

  10. Tawny Briches says:

    my daddy woud wup u for saying that abut america we dont have any of them pepole livin in the ground this is very spookie!!!

    • Clementyne La Llorona says:

      I really hope that this is not a serious comment. I say to you and your daddy, bring it, come talk to me and tell me that this is not really happening in your beloved America. I will say to you that as Americans it is your responsibility to open your eyes and see this country for what it is. A dying nation gasping on its last breath of capitalism and choking on it’s failed set of moral superiority and self-righteousness. Additionally, I suggest that you purchase (or download!) a dictionary and thesaurus. You, as well as all of the citizens of this country, are individual representatives of America. And when you choose to communicate in a way that lacks even the most basic regard for the English language, you align yourself with the collective majority that has chosen the route of stupidity. You wonder why other countries look at Americans in judgement, claiming that we are a country full of lazy and stupid materialists? This is why: you refuse to represent America in a way that would give them any reason to believe otherwise.

  11. Kit says:

    This was great until it got all partisan. Yep, it’s all OBAMA’s fault. Absolutely no blame rests on the republicans in congress who are similarly sitting on their butts and letting shit fall apart for their own benefit.

    The system is BROKEN. It’s not Obama’s fault, it’s not Bush’s fault, it’s the fault of EVERY SINGLE PERSON who has any sort of power to influence change and is doing nothing.

    • Clementyne La Llorona says:

      I approve of this statement. Not that you need my approval, but still, it made me smile.

    • jay says:

      yes lets just all quit pointing the finger and fix it ,all political sides have made mistakes , but instead of going on about the past ,lets fix it and look FORWARD!!

  12. ConstitutionGal says:

    I surely hope you don’t blame this on “capitalism” as well. Never before in the history of our country has this problem been more than kind-hearted people (neighbors, churches) were able to help with. Obama’s policy agenda is creating this and it’s going to get much worse if we don’t stop it! If you think Obama is a capitalist, THINK AGAIN! He WANTS total governmental dependency in order for his agenda to be fully operational and his full support of Agenda 21 will help it all be implemented. You should see MASSIVE UN tanks and (Russian?) troops already here!

  13. Arthur Abott says:

    As for the “Tunnel-People.”
    There are a lot of good genuine people in Washington who are eager to do the right thing for the Nation and the People. The problem is “The System” or the “New-Deal” created in 1913 when Pres. Wilson sold-out America to the Rothschild’s sponsored Banking Cartel (the Federal Reserve). That’s the problem with America!

    (By the way, the 100 year contractual agreement arthur-izing the Fed to distribute money for the U.S. EXPIRES in this very year of 2013).

    Shame on Pres. Wilson, and Shame on All Those of you (via your lobbyist bribe-agents) who surreptitiously accept a government appointment to serve the best interest’s of the Nation and the People, when in truth most are greedy self-serving thieves who have little/no regard for the best interest of America, nor the People.

    The following lesson is at hand for ALL 2 see, “…the Oppressor becomes the Oppressed, and the Oppressed becomes the Oppressor.” This is in truth “The-Law” and there are NONE (as you will soon see) who can escape it. A Universal Law written for ALL.

    As for the Homeless and the Tunnel-People? The pendulum on (their-clock) speaks the same universal language as for ALL. One Day they will have their day for Change and Liberation!

    • Hells_asskicker says:

      The Rothschild rats are the central cause of all of our miseries such as this one. None of what’s happening is the result of accident. It has all been planned to roll that way. As many Americans as possible need to be made of aware of these rats as the causative factor.
      The 1913 Fed Res was the beginning of what is happening. Through the Fed, the Rothschilds control our economy via their European banks that hold stock in the Fed (only bankers allowed to own that stock.) The dogs running the Fed merely carry out orders of those gangsters. The Fed — the lair of this monstrous evil killing this nation.

  14. Reverse The Ignorance says:

    The fact is Kansas is always been hit by tornado in a yearly basis. This profound lifestyle is guaranteed tornado proof. American goverment cannot do anything about their tornado damage is getting worse by the year.

  15. doesntmatter says:

    they will gas them like rats when all hell breaks loose, although they are very little if any threat…what do you think they will do to you??

    • Hells_asskicker says:

      You’re absolutely correct. That needs to be caught on video when it does happen. That way we will have video proof of what capitalism is, what this nation’s govt is really all about, and the evil rich who do nothing about this but are the only people who can.

  16. Stan Sikorski says:

    Every time I hear or see stories like this one I think of the movie Soylent Green.

  17. Leo says:

    Here are individuals that were born and raised here in the United States having too live like animals, yet millions of illegals come across the broader from mexico and everything is given to them . tell me the U.S. is not screwed up ? America is gone . this is one of the indicators .

  18. Tom Wagner says:

    Check out a mid to late 1980’s television series called “Beauty and the Beast” featuring Linda Hamilton playing the role of uptown lawyer, Katherine Chandler, who was victimized through a case of mistaken identity and left for dead. Enter Ron Pearlman, playing the character of “Vincent”, a victim himself of a birth defect that left him with the physical appearance of a lion, Vincent is the defender of a vast and idyllic subculture who quite literally are a sub culture, living beneath the city of New York. This story could have elements, beyond economic, to explain it.

    • Daniel says:

      i agree that was a great serious it shows that everyone has different ways to live from the above they still learn and they always protect their friends from any danger about

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