Saturday, March 28, 2009
Bread Lines forming in California along with Tent Cities
ANTHONY BARTKEWICZ, MyFox National
- Many say a depression doesn't have to be great, that the economy can sink into a milder depression. The Salvation Army says it's happening now, and in San Diego County, people are standing in line outside a Salvation Army waiting for donated bread.
Salvation Army director of communications Suzi Woodruff Lacey said they are seeing people from all walks of life: "white collar, blue collar, people who have lost their jobs, people who are in danger of losing their homes."
Bread lines were regularly seen in the 1930s during the Great Depression, when unemployment peaked at more than 25 percent and the stock market lost 90 percent of its value. Today, California's unemployment rate hit 8.4 percent.
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 downturn: They are the chronically homeless, some of them mentally ill. But the encampment seized national attention after Oprah Winfrey featured it on her daytime television show, part of a series of reports she has been running on the "new faces" of homelessness.
Embarrassed by an influx of television crews, Arnold Schwarzenegger this week announced plans to house the tent-dwellers in a nearby convention centre until a $1m (£690,000) plan for more permanent shelter can be implemented.
The California governor told reporters he had "personally delivered a letter to President Barack Obama last week, to request that economic stimulus funds for the homeless be fast-tracked".
Obama grappled with the phenomenon on Tuesday, when a reporter at his primetime news conference asked him about the "tent cities sprouting up across the country". The president said he was "heartbroken that any child in America is homeless", adding: "The most important thing I can do on their behalf is to make sure their parents have a job."