The Islamic Post Blog

Tent Cities of Homeless Spreading With Housing Crisis by Khalida
October 3, 2008, 8:28 pm
Filed under: National, Sept/Oct Volume - 2008 | Tags:
A resident of the tent city in San Bernadino, Californa.

A resident of the tent city in Ontario in San Bernadino County, California. The population of the tent city grew from 15 to 400 in one year.

By Safiyah A. Khafidh, Islamic Post Staff Writer
Tent cities are springing up across the country as people lose their homes and jobs, especially since the foreclosure crisis began in 2007.

“It’s clear that poverty and homelessness has increased,” said Michael Stoops, acting director of the National Coalition for the Homeless. “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.”

It’s a desperate move by people who have nowhere else to go.

A parking lot in Santa Barbara is now a refuge for folks sleeping in cars and vans. Authorities in Fresno, Calif. are faced with several growing tent cities, including an area where residents have built shelters out of scrap wood. Go up the western coast into Portland, Oregon and Seattle, homeless advocacy groups are working with non-profits or groups of various faiths in managing the tent cities.

Seattle is bust building for its influx of rich professionals who are occupying neighborhoods the working class lost, while the homeless search out inconspicuous, out of the way places, trying to avoid the police. “What’s happening in Seattle is what’s happening everywhere else-on steroids,” said Tim Harris, executive director of Real Change, a homeless advocacy group.

In Reno, Arizona, the officials are allowing the tent city because shelters were already filled. The tent dwellers are required to register, provided showers at the shelters and given references on where to find food and meals. However, they are subject to weekly monitoring to ascertain their progress in finding jobs and decent housing. According to Jodi Royal-Goodwin, Reno’s redevelopment agency director, there are “more people… homeless than we can remember.”

Nevertheless, come early October, the residents of this tent city will be moving on as the city has plans to turn the parking lot that they are living on into a complex of shelters and a resource center. Tent cities have been reported as far as Ohio and into Tennessee.


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