‘Tent cities’ housing homeless increasing in the US

September 20th, 2008 - 4:15 pm ICT by IANS  

London, Sep 20 (IANS) The number of ‘tent cities’ housing homeless people is increasing in the US and the rise has been partially attributed to the ongoing financial crisis, increased home repossessions and rising job losses, according to a report.A majority of organisations of the homeless reported an increase in homelessness since the mortgage crisis began in 2007, according to a study by the Washington DC-based National Coalition for the Homeless, the Telegraph newspaper reported Saturday.

The problem has intensified with the rise in the number of repossessions, soaring energy and food prices and rising unemployment since the study was conducted in April, the organisation said.

“It’s clear that poverty and homelessness have increased,” acting executive director of the organisation Michael Stoops said.

“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,” he added.

Homeless groups as well as government agencies across the US said the number of homeless settlements that has not been seen almost in a generation.

“What you’re seeing is encampments that I haven’t seen since the ’80s,” said Paul Boden, executive director of the Western Regional Advocacy Project, an umbrella organisation of homeless groups in west coast cities.

A tent city recently came up on the outskirts of Reno, Nevada, the state with the highest repossessions rate in the country, and was housing about 150 people.

Many in the tent city had become homeless after losing their jobs.

Local officials said that they did not know the exact number of homeless in the city.

“But we do know that the soup kitchens are serving hundreds more meals a day and that we have more people who are homeless than we can remember,” said Jodi Royal-Goodwin, the city’s redevelopment agency director.

The city of Santa Barbara in California has homeless people living in their cars in city’s car parks.

Tent cities have also sprung up in Portland in Oregon, and Seattle, where homeless activists have also set up mock tent cities at the city hall to draw attention to the problem.

New homeless settlements have also come up or the existing ones have expanded in San Diego in California, Chattanooga in Tennessee, and Columbus in Ohio.

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