Fri, March 13, 2009
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Tent City: The recession's new face

2009-03-13 02:44:41 GMT2009-03-13 10:44:41 (Beijing Time)  SINA.com

\The spiraling U.S. economy now has a new face in California's capital city.

Sacremento is now home to "Tent City" -- a modern day shanty town where an exploding homeless population is seeking refuge on the wrong side of the tracks.

Jim Gibson worked construction for thirty years -- then six months ago, the work dried up:

(SOUNDBITE) (English) JIM GIBSON, TENT CITY RESIDENT, SAYING:

"There are thousands and thousands of people who are a paycheck away from being right where I am at. Where all these investment firms that fell, large companies going under and filing chapters, it gets to be overwhelming."

Corbin and Tina Garland are also part of a group who never thought the "American Dream" would end here.

(SOUNDBITE) (English) TINA GARLAND ON BEING HOMELESS, SAYING:

"This wasn't my dream that is for sure. You don't grow up wishing to be homeless at 50. You want to grow old with your husband and enjoy your life."

But with an imploding foreclosure market, spiraling unemployment -- the rapid descent from struggling financially to becoming destitute is a harsh reality in this community.

At Loaves & Fishes, an organization that provides services for the homeless -- executive director Sister Libby Fernandez is concerned about the changes she has seen.

(SOUNDBITE) (English) SISTER LIBBY FERNANDEZ, ON THE HOMELESS PROBLEM, SAYING:

"A couple of years ago we used to say that you are two paychecks away from being homeless. Well, it is getting closer and a lot of people are sensing it, who have resources still, but are feeling that it could be my story too down the line."

City managers say they hope to start moving people out in the next few weeks --claiming the area is private property and has become a health and safety hazard.

But for now, everyone seems to be in agreement that Tent City is a symbol of a complex problem with no easy answers.

Jon Decker, Reuters.

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