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Tent City, USA — Homeless Populations on the Rise

You can think of them as recession refugee camps, but they're called "tent cities" and their populations keep increasing as more Americans lose jobs and homes.

The chronically homeless have illegally lived in encampments before. But with a boom in people seeking out shelter, cities like Sacramento, CA, are thinking about legalizing the communities and providing services. Does that sound like a reasonable safety net to you?


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To watch a recent segment on tent cities from Oprah and see more photos,

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baybay11 baybay11 6 years
There is no more tent city in Sacramento... Kevin Johnson, and all those with power, have decided to throw these people in jail. Yes, pay to feed and house them in jails, but according to them, we can't afford to provide more housing options. Disgusting! Shame on you, Mayor Johnson!!!! YOU need to lose YOUR job and try making it on your own in Sacramento, with jerks like you, making it a crime!
jonnypeace jonnypeace 6 years
To call these homeless camps or Hoovervilles is to oversimplify what's going on here. It also implies that these are temporary. I doubt it. Better to call these slums, because that's what they are: http://www.hcn.org/issues/41.5/tarp-nation
CHOOCHOO CHOOCHOO 6 years
Carrie Sue, I know what you mean...only my experience is more disturbing. I was searching my neighborhood area on the internet for sexual offenders last Halloween (to know which streets to avoid) when I found a startling statistic. A large portion of them here are listed as 'transient.' How convenient. After seeing that and knowing what happened to Elizabeth Smart, I will never, ever bring my child to work soup lines or volunteer in that capacity. Also, I know there are some who are homeless by choice. They like the fact that they don't have bills to pay and can move their tent when they like.Do all homeless fit into those categories? Of course not...but it's nice to be able to state such things and avoid being preached at with wagging finger for acknowledging facts.
CHOOCHOO CHOOCHOO 6 years
Carrie Sue, I know what you mean...only my experience is more disturbing. I was searching my neighborhood area on the internet for sexual offenders last Halloween (to know which streets to avoid) when I found a startling statistic. A large portion of them here are listed as 'transient.' How convenient. After seeing that and knowing what happened to Elizabeth Smart, I will never, ever bring my child to work soup lines or volunteer in that capacity. Also, I know there are some who are homeless by choice. They like the fact that they don't have bills to pay and can move their tent when they like. Do all homeless fit into those categories? Of course not...but it's nice to be able to state such things and avoid being preached at with wagging finger for acknowledging facts.
Smacks83 Smacks83 6 years
I think no matter how much struggling people are doing, at least you can donate 1 can of food. I bothers me greatly that I've seen/known so many people that complain about how poor they are and how much they are struggling at the same time they can afford to eat out or buy nicer clothes or worse yet still buy the newest shiny gizmo. This story reminds me of how lucky I am to still have food and a roof over my head.
genesisrocks genesisrocks 6 years
This is terrible
genesisrocks genesisrocks 6 years
This is terrible
hypnoticmix hypnoticmix 6 years
I remember my two weeks on the street a long long time ago when I left home to make it on my own. I had a full time job and a part-time job in the evening. I was working seven days a week and still living pay check to pay check. I was laid off from my day job and all hell broke loose. Land lord was very strict no if ands or but's if you don't have the whole rent out you go. Being that young I didn't know much about renter’s rights in the city at the time but long story short I continued my part-time job and lived in the park around the corner for two weeks. I could have called my parents to send money or come rescue me but in a weird way I appreciated the opportunity to experience what it's like. The biting ocean breeze whipping down chilling me to the bone at night and learning to mentally ignore the cold. Waking up and seeing the world go on around me as though I wasn't there quite an experience and one I'm glad I had. Thank goodness my only issue was shelter; my part-time job was at a restaurant so I had one solid meal a day.
stephley stephley 6 years
There aren’t a whole lot of people who would rather live outdoors in the elements, or sleep on whatever random possibly lice ridden cot is available, just to avoid working. You look at the homeless and remember there but for fortune go any of us, and pitch in and help. If a couple of slackers get a free meal, is it really such a big deal that it could alter your compassion for the truly needy?
stephley stephley 6 years
There aren’t a whole lot of people who would rather live outdoors in the elements, or sleep on whatever random possibly lice ridden cot is available, just to avoid working. You look at the homeless and remember there but for fortune go any of us, and pitch in and help. If a couple of slackers get a free meal, is it really such a big deal that it could alter your compassion for the truly needy?
hypnoticmix hypnoticmix 6 years
You're right Carrie Sue there are the chronic homeless who have had all consideration of hope sapped out of them long ago they are another story.
Jillness Jillness 6 years
I agree Hypno. And while I don't doubt your experience Carrie Sue, I have talked with so many homeless people that have very different stories. I think the main fact of this story that we need to consider is that there are many more homeless people in the United States than there were a few years ago. It is great when family can help out, but not everyone has family. Some people are truly on their own. Shelters and food pantries are being hit with a much higher demand than they have supplies for right now. Like tent cities or not, we should all try to give a little more (time, food, clothing, blankets) to food pantries and shelters this year.
Jillness Jillness 6 years
I agree Hypno. And while I don't doubt your experience Carrie Sue, I have talked with so many homeless people that have very different stories. I think the main fact of this story that we need to consider is that there are many more homeless people in the United States than there were a few years ago. It is great when family can help out, but not everyone has family. Some people are truly on their own. Shelters and food pantries are being hit with a much higher demand than they have supplies for right now. Like tent cities or not, we should all try to give a little more (time, food, clothing, blankets) to food pantries and shelters this year.
Carrie-Sue Carrie-Sue 6 years
Not all homeless people are hardworking men and women who "just happened" to be down-on-their-luck (and I'm not saying there's no one like that). I worked in D.C. at a shelter, and I remember one of those days two men got up and announced that there were construction jobs open down the street, no questions asked. I'll never forget, the person nearest to me commented "why should I take a job like that when I can get free room and meals right here?". The people he came with spoke along the same lines. Admittedly, that's the other extreme of the issue. Most are somewhere in between, I'm sure. It's hard to know just where to stand on such an issue.
Carrie-Sue Carrie-Sue 6 years
Not all homeless people are hardworking men and women who "just happened" to be down-on-their-luck (and I'm not saying there's no one like that). I worked in D.C. at a shelter, and I remember one of those days two men got up and announced that there were construction jobs open down the street, no questions asked. I'll never forget, the person nearest to me commented "why should I take a job like that when I can get free room and meals right here?". The people he came with spoke along the same lines. Admittedly, that's the other extreme of the issue. Most are somewhere in between, I'm sure. It's hard to know just where to stand on such an issue.
hypnoticmix hypnoticmix 6 years
UnDave...Services in a shelter, services through unemployment benefits, services for a tent city we're still gonna provide services for these people regardless of where they are. I would rather have them in communal group supporting and taking care of each other than roaming the city streets and sleeping in alley ways and store fronts.
hypnoticmix hypnoticmix 6 years
UnDave...Services in a shelter, services through unemployment benefits, services for a tent city we're still gonna provide services for these people regardless of where they are. I would rather have them in communal group supporting and taking care of each other than roaming the city streets and sleeping in alley ways and store fronts.
organicsugr organicsugr 6 years
I hope they're prepared for the influx of homeless from all over the nation.
Beauty Beauty 6 years
Modern-day Hoovervilles — so sad to see. The man in the Oprah/Lisa Ling video seemed like a nice, hard-working guy. I feel so helpless when it comes to the economy... no light at the end of the tunnel and more and more people struggling as time passes.
Michelann Michelann 6 years
Setting up a community like this is extremely risky and, I hate to say it, but there will most likely be a mass amount of crime here even if the camp itself is legal. I think there have to be other options and steps to explore first.
stephley stephley 6 years
I think before providing services to makeshift encampments, communities should be certain they've exhausted all adequate shelter options. To call providing services to tent cities a 'reasonable safety net' is setting the bar incredibly low.
UnDave35 UnDave35 6 years
They are welcome to "support" these tent cities, but my community better not do this. These types of places (where services are provided) tend to be magnets.
CaterpillarGirl CaterpillarGirl 6 years
If my parents, became homeless for any reason, they would darn sure tell me! and I would come and get them! that said. This is a sad state of affairs these tent cities.
CaterpillarGirl CaterpillarGirl 6 years
If my parents, became homeless for any reason, they would darn sure tell me! and I would come and get them! that said. This is a sad state of affairs these tent cities.
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