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From Sacramento's tent city: Chris & Ray

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Turborama Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri May-29-09 10:10 PM
Original message
From Sacramento's tent city: Chris & Ray
Run time: 07:29
Posted on YouTube: April 27, 2009
By YouTube Member:
Views on YouTube: 0
Posted on DU: May 30, 2009
By DU Member: Turborama
Views on DU: 613
The tent city in Sacramento has been all over the news worldwide. Heck, even Oprah went there. Sadly, the media glare that captured the world's attention was also the impetus for the mayor's order to dismantle tent, causing hundreds of residents to be displaced.

Ironic, isn't it. Most residents of Sacramento's tent city were living quietly and without incident until Oprah came to town.

I have been wanting to get up to Sacramento to check out tent city for some time. Unlike news media, where you will hear a reporter tells a brief, punchy version of the story, I wanted to capture the real stories of the real people who are being forced out of tent city. Raw, unedited, unsponsored and in their own words. Invisible People and will be bringing you some of these stories over the next few weeks.

First, meet Chris. I first met him as he was packing up to leave. Thing is, he didnt have anywhere to go. Chris has been homeless for three years and has been living in the same location for the past year. The police told him that morning that if he didnt move he would be going to jail. Chris has some strong opinions about what is going on and how the issue should be addressed. The statement that he makes that keeps reverberating in my head is this: The crime is being poor and homeless.

As for tent city, the whole place seemed so unstable it was about to explode. I have no idea who the guy is that came up and started talking. Everyone was scared and angry. And, to be honest, I dont blame them one bit.


Ray lives in a tent. He walks miles each day for food and water. His government assistance check is not enough to cover housing, never mind his other costs of living. He struggles everyday to stay safe and survive these deplorable and unsanitary living conditions.

If you think this sounds like a third-world country, youre not too far off. During my two days visiting Sacramentos infamous tent cities I could not shake the feeling that I had somehow transported to Kenya or Southern Sudan, where people walk for days just to get water and the living conditions are paltry. It boggles my mind that people are forced to live like this in the richest country in the world.

Ray is intelligent and articulate. There is a slight audio glitch in this video, but Rays narrative of what has happened in Sacramento and how he survives homelessness is so insightful I had to post it. In this video Ray says that the location of their tent city is safe. But when I visited just the following day, everyone was told to move or be arrested.

I still cannot shake the feeling that what I experienced in Sacramento is the future of Americas middleclass. That said, may we never accept tent cities as normal. There is nothing normal about the lives Ray and countless others are being forced to live.

Watch Ray's narrative here:

More: /

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lib2DaBone Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri May-29-09 10:40 PM
Response to Original message
1. This is so wrong. These are AMERICAN people..Veterans...
What the hell is wrong with our politicians and lawmakers?

Worse than that, what is wrong with an America that would let this happen to friends and neighbors. (Along with torture, foreclosure, shock and awe, more taxes and less freedom)
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madeline_con Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri May-29-09 11:22 PM
Response to Original message
2. Can the California Veterans Assistance Foundation help?
I emailed them and asked if they could help. Maybe other DUers could email also.
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FreakinDJ Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri May-29-09 11:48 PM
Response to Original message
3. Sacramento has many many "Street People"
they have been living down by Cal-Expo and the rivers around here for many many years
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LeftyMom Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat May-30-09 12:41 AM
Response to Original message
4. There is essentially no hope of getting into any sort of low income housing here.
Edited on Sat May-30-09 12:41 AM by LeftyMom
The Sacramento Housing and Redevelopment Agency (SHRA) goes years between brief periods (> 1 month) of opening the Section 8 list up for new applicants. SHRA also has a very small stock of site-based low income housing, consisting mostly of dilapidated apartments in areas with ghastly crime problems (if my choices were living in "Phoenix Park" or whatever it is they're calling those crack dens off of G Parkway now, or in a tent near the river, I'd give some serious consideration to the tent. It would probably be safer.) Their website has a lot of information about home PURCHASE opportunities, but how the hell that helps if you're low income and thus not exactly sitting on a down payment or great credit in all likelihood, I have no idea.

Most of the remaining "low income" housing in the area consists of privately owned tax credit properties that are operated at a bit below market rent. Some of these are very nice (I live in one such property) but not exactly "affordable" for the poor- rent alone is hundreds of dollars more than a welfare family gets in cash aid.

In other words, the housing situation here was ghastly to begin with, and until there's some effort to create really affordable housing that doesn't have a years-long wait list, it's not likely to improve.
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Divine Discontent Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jun-01-09 03:45 AM
Response to Reply #4
5. spot on - and without major govt aid from Obama pushing it to Congress
many people can never afford those tax-credit property rentals b/c like you said, they're reduced but not enough for most anyone who makes under 15K a year. I barely get by, can't imagine having any less income, and there's millions with less than my single digit per hour salary.
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