tent cities rise across the country

Tent cities! This is a phenomenon the country hasn't seen since the 1930s. My parents were Depression-era folks, and I heard many stories about the tent cities that grew up during those hard times. It's a frightening sign of the times that tent cities are springing up again.

RENO, Nev. (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. 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.

The relatively tony city of Santa Barbara has given over a parking lot to people who sleep in cars and vans. The city of Fresno, Calif., is trying to manage several proliferating tent cities, including an encampment where people have made shelters out of scrap wood. In Portland, Ore., and Seattle, homeless advocacy groups have paired with nonprofits or faith-based groups to manage tent cities as outdoor shelters. Other cities where tent cities have either appeared or expanded include include Chattanooga, Tenn., San Diego, and Columbus, Ohio.

In Seattle, which is experiencing a building boom and an influx of affluent professionals in neighborhoods the working class once owned, homeless encampments have been springing up - in remote places to avoid police sweeps. "What's happening in Seattle is what's happening everywhere else - on steroids," said Tim Harris, executive director of Real Change, an advocacy organization that publishes a weekly newspaper sold by homeless people.

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My grandparents have many stories to share about the 1930s, and they are especially agitated in the current mess.


Spend, the economy needs our spending to stabilize.

Now get out there and spend, the economic stimulus checks, reinvest the tax breaks that the companies got and are getting.

Just do some spending, the foundation of the economy is sound.

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