A tent city in California's state capitol, Sacramento?
The story has been told on Oprah and a photo version of it is on the MSNBC website. In the interest of being impartial, here is a version of the story as told from the English point of view.
While the photos and video tell a very dramatic story and February's unemployment figures are like icing on a really lousy cake, here's a little perspective.
As of 2007, the population of Sacramento, CA is just over 460,000. A close comparison population wise in California is Fresno, roughly in the center of the state, at a population of 470,000.
From the National Alliance to End Homelessness, 2007 estimates of the homeless population in Sacramento (city and county) was 2,452. In Fresno, the number was 4,247
As far as foreclosures, which is likely to generate some percentage of newly homeless, RealtyTrac now lists over 4400 properties in Sacramento as "Pre-foreclosure" and over 7200 properties as "bank owned". In Fresno, over 2600 properties are listed currently as "Pre-foreclosure" and nearly 3600 as "bank owned"
While the articles I found about Sacramento estimate 1200 live in the tent city at the outskirts of the city, I could not find current estimates for Fresno, if a tent city has even been permitted to stand. If one exists there, it is likely a couple of hundred people are living in that tent city.
So, what does all of this mean?
First of all, California is one of five states which is experiencing the highest percentage of foreclosures. Further, our state's unemployment rate is now over 10% (San Diego county is doing better than the rest of the state - - scroll 2/3rds down the article for the entire state's latest unemployment numbers). With figures like this, residents feeling the need to move into vans, tents, etc., is not as surprising.
While at least one charity has been providing assistance to those living in tent cities, the state is just now getting over the budget drama and is not in the best position to provide help. The Recovery Act and the U.S's upcoming fiscal year budget will provide some assistance with getting as many as want to return to apartments/houses.
However, as we all have heard these last few months, do not be surprised if this situation gets worse before it gets better.