Growing 'tent cities' blamed on foreclosure crisis
RENO, Nevada (AP) -- A few tents cropped up hard by the railroad tracks, pitched by men left with nowhere to go once the emergency winter shelter closed for the summer.
Mack Martinez, 19, of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, passes time at a tent city in Reno, Nevada, on June 25.
Then others appeared -- people who had lost their jobs to the ailing economy, or newcomers who had moved to Reno for work and discovered no one was hiring.
Within weeks, more than 150 people were living in tents big and small, barely a foot apart in a patch of dirt slated to be a parking lot for a campus of shelters Reno is building for its homeless population. Like many other cities, Reno has found itself with a "tent city" -- an encampment of people who had nowhere else to go.
From Seattle to Athens, Georgia, homeless advocacy groups and city agencies are reporting the most visible rise in homeless encampments in a generation.
Nearly 61 percent of local and state homeless coalitions say they've experienced a rise in homelessness since the foreclosure crisis began in 2007, according to a report by the National Coalition for the Homeless. The group says the problem has worsened since the report's release in April, with foreclosures mounting, gas and food prices rising and the job market tightening.
"It's clear that poverty and homelessness have increased," said Michael Stoops, acting executive director of the coalition. "The economy is in chaos, we're in an unofficial recession and Americans are worried, from the homeless to the middle class, about their future."
The phenomenon of encampments has caught advocacy groups somewhat by surprise, largely because of how quickly they have sprung up.
My first night on the road, coming to North Carolina, a place I know regret coming to for a variety of reasons, none of which have to do with my hosts, I parked in the lot right next to this tent city in Reno Nevada. It was filthy, noisy, and with outdoor toilets that let the stench fill the night air.
The only thing it had going for it was it was well guarded by security.
When one of the richest cities in the USA, due to it's casinos, is having this much difficulty, it should send up major red flags in Washington D.C.
But, alas, as with the bank crisis, Bush and McSame are a day late and a dollar short on the brains to do anything.