By: Sallie and Anne Stuart

In the Great Depression life was hard. People were homeless and then Hoovervilles came to be. Even though they were living in poverty they still found entertainment. You will learn all about Hoovervilles in the following paragraphs.

Hooverville. Portland, Oregon

What would you do if you were homeless during the Great Depression? Take a look at what other people did to survive on the streets. Some built shanty towns around and inside cities. They were named Hoovervilles because of their disappointment in President Herbert Hoover. How did they get on the streets in the first place? Well, they were evicted from their homes. They looked for shelter but found none so they built it. These shacks were made of cardboard, glass, tin cans, wood, and any other trash they could find. If losing your home sounds bad, let's take a look at how they lived.

Dwellers in Circleville's "Hooverville"
Life in Hooverville was difficult. From October 1929 until early 1933, the U.S. economy slumped almost every month. In 1933, at least 25,000 families and more than 200,000 young people wandered around the country homeless. They needed food, shelter, clothing, and jobs. Thousands lost their homes because they couldn’t pay their mortgages. Many people died from disease resulting from malnutrition. When people were homeless some stayed in the same community that they were in. Some people stayed with their relatives. Others moved to shanty towns called Hoovervilles. These shacks were made by things they found. Life was definitely a confusing time during the Great Depression, but Hooverville was a place where they could get their feet back under them.

a part-time fruit work in his squatters shack under the Ross Island Bridge. Portland, Oregon

What would you do for entertainment if you were living in a Hooverville? One of the things they found was baseball. It was an exciting sport with plenty of room to play and a time where people can enjoy being together. On rainy days they could play board games and cards in their cardboard shelter. A great way to relax and enjoy yourself was to kick back and listen to your radio. Some people didn’t have a radio so they would invite other people to join them. After dinner, the family would gather around the radio for popular series. When the people of Hooverville wanted to get out of town, they had one free pass to go the movies and sit in a comfy theater. Sometimes children would find ways to have fun by making up games using things they found such as rocks and sticks. American families did not have a hard time finding entertainment.

Now that you know all about Hoovervilles, think about how you would feel sad and homeless in the Great Depression. Sometimes we don’t realize how lucky we are in life. I hope you enjoyed learning about how Hoovervilles came to be, what life was like, and what they did for entertainment.



Mitchener, Kris James. "Great Depression." World Book Student. World Book, 2012. Web. 29 Feb. 2012.


Ruth,Amy. "Growing up in the Great Depression." Minneapolis: Lerner Publications, 2003.