Lisa Ling says tent cities are booming because homeless shelters are overflowing.
Though Lisa has covered breaking news stories worldwide, she says this one hit too close to home—literally. "This was my hometown, where I spent 17 years of my life, and this is being repeated all over the country," she says. "Every single person I spoke to said that over the last six months, the numbers [in tent cities] have been exploding."

Tent cities are illegal in Sacramento, but Lisa says that may change soon. "So many people are seeking out shelter because all of the homeless shelters are filled beyond capacity, that they're actually thinking about legalizing tent communities, and the city is actually thinking about providing services," she says. "Surprisingly, the community has been extremely sympathetic because so many people in Sacramento have gone into foreclosure. ... The shelters say that people have actually been donating more because the attitude is 'I'd rather spend money so that people can have shelter than buy new material stuff.'" 

Update: Since this show originally aired in February 2009, the city of Sacramento dismantled this tent city, citing concerns over public health and safety. Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson promises to put $1 million toward finding beds and permanent housing for the displaced residents. In the meantime, looming budget cuts threaten to shut down three more shelters in Sacramento County during the summer of 2009. Homeless advocates say the local shelters are still filled to capacity every night.

Take a look at what Lisa saw during her tent city visit Watch

Watch what happens to homes after they've been foreclosed Watch

Meet more victims of the recession
FROM: Tent Cities in America: A Lisa Ling Special Report
Published on June 19, 2009


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