Established 2005 Registered Charity No. 1110656

Scottish Charity Register No. SC043760

current issue

April – May 2024 : Compassion READ ONLINE


Tent cities across US

April 02 2010
Large numbers of America‘s 3.5m homeless men and women congregate in tent cities for safety

A new report by US charity the National Coalition for the Homeless has revealed the growing number of tent cities across the country.

Tent Cities in America: A Pacific Coast Report examines how the camps have emerged, and the need for affordable and accessible housing.

As the US continues to react to its biggest financial crisis since the Great Depression, home foreclosures and unemployment continues to rise, with newly homeless families doubling in the past year. Almost half America's 3.5m homeless are unsheltered, with a large number congregating in tent cities for safety. The charity's director Neil Donovan said: "Tent Cities are American's de facto waiting room for affordable and accessible housing."

The report examines the 11 tent cities across the US's west coast, and the charity plans to produce further reports to examine other encampments across the rest of the country.

Across the country, homeless groups and government agencies say they are witnessing the biggest increase in homeless encampments for a generation.

"What you're seeing is encampments that I haven't seen since the '80s," said Paul Boden, executive director of the Western Regional Advocacy Project, an umbrella group of homeless groups in west coast cities.

Amenities in the camps - reminiscent of the 'Hoovervilles' of the Great Depression - are basic, with no mains electricity, no plumbing or no drainage. In Reno, Nevada, the state with the nation's highest repossessions rate, a tent city recently sprung up on the city's outskirts and quickly filled up with about 150 people.

Most tent cities are in California, where you will find more than 200 people living in Tent City in Sacramento, which became infamous after appearing on the Oprah Winfrey Show. The site was currently under threat of closure, but others will no doubt spring up.