By Kathy Sanborn

The right to the city: the entitled and the excluded - The Urban Reinventors, Special issue, November 2009

Homeless encampments around the country are mushrooming, much to the embarrassment of government officials, many of whom prefer to hear no evil, see no evil. In Fresno, California, a shantytown called “New Jack City” is host to newly poor, unemployed electricians and truck drivers, who share space with drug addicts and the mentally ill who have been homeless for years. Sacramento is famous for its homeless tent city, featuring several hundred people residing in pitched tents bordering the American River. With refuse strewn everywhere, and no potable water or bathroom facilities, this celebrated shantytown is clearly a sanitation risk. Almost as soon as the media ran with the story, plans were made to shut down the Sacramento tent city in the foreseeable future. City officials will relocate the homeless to other, presumably more sanitary, areas (e.g., at the site of the state fairgrounds, Cal Expo). According to the Sacramento Bee, “homeless campers” will be ousted in about four weeks, as the private property will be fenced off to ban the tent city population. California’s capital is not the only city to be brought to its knees by photos of dishevelled citizens with nebulous futures. Reports of burgeoning tent cities in Nevada, Tennessee, and Washington State (just to name a few) have kept local governments hopping to fix the trouble before the media spotlight targets their own cities [...]

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Kathy Sanborn is an author, journalist, and recording artist.

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