U.S. Tent Cities Highlight New Realities as Recession Wears On
Sat, 28 Mar 2009

A homeless encampment known as Tent City, in Sacramento, California. Photograph: Rich Pedroncelli/AP
[Posted By ShiftShapers]

By Oliver Burkeman
Republished from The Guardian/UK
Welcome to Third World America. This is only the beginning...

For years, Joan Burke has had to battle the fact that homelessness, for most Americans, is an invisible scourge. Recently, however, invisibility hasn’t exactly been the problem.

Ten minutes’ walk from where she works, at the homelessness charity Loaves and Fishes, in Sacramento, California, lies an all-too-visible “tent city” – a shanty town, built on wasteground beside railway tracks, that has become one of the most prominent symbols of the recession.

Tent cities reminiscent of the “Hoovervilles” of the Great Depression have been springing up in cities across the United States – from Reno in Nevada to Tampa in Florida – as foreclosures and redundancies force middle-class families from their homes.

“Where the tent city is now is literally a toxic waste dump, it’s unsafe, but these people are very resourceful,” Burke said. “Some people are living in squalor, with just a tarp tied to a chainlink fence. But then you’ll see someone with several tents: The tent they live in, plus some outbuilding tents. And they couldn’t be more neat and more tidy. They’re working hard to create a sense of home.”

Many of the 200 residents of Sacramento’s Tent City, as with those around the country, are not recent victims of the…

US tent cities highlight new realities as recession wears on | World news | guardian.co.uk