California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, reacting to a nationally famous make-shift tent city for the homeless spouting up in Sacramento, is ordering that it be shut down and its residents transferred to the state fairgrounds.
The tent city, which has long existed along the banks of the America River, gained national attention last month when some of its recently homeless residents were featured on the Oprah Winfrey Show.
But it is only one of dozens, perhaps hundreds, which are now being erected around the country, according to The New York Times. Shanty towns and tent cities are not only popping up in large urban areas, according to the paper, but also in smaller towns.
“While encampments and street living have always been a part of the landscape in big cities like Los Angeles and New York, these new tent cities have taken root — or grown from smaller enclaves of the homeless as more people lose jobs and housing — in such disparate places as Nashville, Olympia, Wash., and St. Petersburg, Fla.," the Times reports
The state facility known as Cal-Expo in California’s state capital, Sacramento, will be used for three months to serve an estimated 125 people, some of them displaced by the economic recession, according to Bloomberg News. The Sacramento city council also voted unanimously on a $1 million homeless program to provide 150 additional beds, including 50 new beds at the winter shelter run by the Volunteers of America, the Sacramento Bee reports. That brings the total there to 204. The newspaper says the shelter will be allowed to stay open until July, three months longer than normal.
California’s unemployment rate, among the highest in the nation, stands at 10.5 now and is likely to grow. Home to 1 out of every 8 Americans, the state has been particularly hard hit by the subprime mortgage crisis. California has one of the highest rates of foreclosure, and home prices have dropped 41 percent.
“Together with the local government and volunteers, we are taking a first step to ensure the people living in tent city have a safe place to stay, with fresh water, healthy conditions and access to the services they need,” Schwarzenegger said in a statement. “And I am committed to working… to find a permanent solution for those living in tent city.”
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