By Bill Marsh

People who recently lost their job or home find shelter in tent cities like this one in Sacramento, California. Photo: www.flickr.com
People who recently lost their job or home find shelter in tent cities like this one in Sacramento, California. Photo: www.flickr.com

As people find themselves out of work and unable to afford high monthly mortgage payments and escalating rents, tent cities are popping up across the United States.

Inhabiting empty fields, abandoned parking lots and already overcrowded shelters, homeless people – many of whom have only recently lost their jobs and homes – have set up camps in small and big cities across the  country, including Los Angeles, San Francisco and San Diego in California, Portland, Oregon, Nashville and Chattanooga, Tennessee, Columbus, Ohio, Reno, Nevada, and Camden, New Jersey.  Recent estimates place the
total number of tent city dwellers at between 15,000 and 20,000.

The National Coalition for the Homeless reported in April that more than 60 percent of local and state homeless agencies have witnessed a rise in homelessness since the housing crisis began in 2007.

“Nearly forgotten in the foreclosure crisis are the thousands of homeowners and renters who have become homeless once their equity is exhausted,” said Bob Erlenbusch, President of the National Coalition for the Homeless.

Kids as well as adults have been affected by this new wave of homelessness brought on by the weakening economy. A report released in March from the National Center on Family Homelessness found that 1 in 50 children in the United States are homeless today. Some of these children are now living in the new shantytowns.