Saturday, 14 March 2009

The Long Road to Sacramento

To be kinda honest....I once lived in Tent City. Yes. Perhaps I should feel shame...or something terrible...but I lived in Incirlik's Tent City in Turkey....for around 120 days. It was military Tent City...but still...it was Tent City.

Here in recent days...Sacramento's "Tent City" has kinda popped up. In fact...its gotten so much popular notice....that its on YOUTUBE and noted nation-wide. I should even add...it's even getting international notice.

The thing about Sacramento's Tent City....is that its basically a sprawling campground...with only a population of 100 to 200 homeless men and women.

Amusingly enough....even "Inside Edition" has decided to feature Sacramento's Tent City.

So you'd sit there and think...wow....Tent City getting noticed. Pretty neat. My 120 days in Incirlik's Tent City didn't really get noticed by anyone. Between the toilet that was 300 feet away....the cockroaches...the mice....the scorpions...the dust....I just kinda sat there in a daze mostly.

Here in this episode? Apparently some city leaders are starting to shake their heads over this Tent City.

For some reason....with all this Oprah-like attention....there is now a hot debate going on....in Sacramento.....over whether the campground be 'legal' and then if they should provide basic services.....like portable bathrooms and water. Somewhere in the midst of this mess...the city and county are trying to figure out how to avoid a class-action lawsuit over their treatment of homeless folks.

I would pull out the constitution if anyone cared....just to show them that they really don't have rights to city-paid services....like bathrooms or water or roofs. For some apparent reason....Jefferson never wrote those into the document. Course, a homeless advocate would say that Jefferson was never homeless. True...he would have gone and pitched a tent....caught a rabbit....found some way of survival and then proceeded on.

The episode becomes like some TV show....where facts and data are dumped....whether true or not. Some media folks are now saying well over 1,200 homeless folks exist at the Sacramento camp....but the locals kinda laugh...they are still mostly at 200....and its not really increasing much....least not yet.

Then you've got a couple of folks....probably international media....who are reporting this camp as a "refugee camp". I started laughing about that comment. The same guys are hinting that these are mostly formerly middle-class people who have been hit by the recession. Again, the local settle that matter by saying a few are formerly middle-class...the majority are not.

The truth is that the camp has now become some kinda zoo where media members come and go...to get some great shots and interview a few people to describe the great '2009 depression'.

As some of the homeless authorities now admit....this media attention has now stressed out the homeless.....and started to effect "the morale and dignity of the homeless people themselves".

The advocates are super-positive over this episode....with folks dropping off lots of stuff. But then...the act of taking the homeless guy up to a job opportunity or getting them hired on with McDonalds or Wendys....doesn't come to the mind of the homeless advocates.

I've often seen this attitude on TV....where you have a sheep herder (homeless advocate), who desperately wants to keep his herd in line and stabilized (the homeless folks). The idea of the flock moving on...getting regular lives....is the least of the priorities.

You would think...that you'd take the guy in....get them shaved and cleaned up....dressed in a decent set of clothing....and then write up a good little resume and then get some decent interviews out of the way...and hired with someone...anyone...would be a top priority. Instead...the advocates usually keep wanting to talk to the guy....give them soup and water....and arrange for long-term homelessness.

So somewhere out in California tonight....around 200 folks sit in Sacramento....sipping some free coffee from the advocates. They are listening to good homelessness chat, posing for pictures with some reporter from Paris or some journalist from New York City...and then counting the stars before they nod off to sleep. Something's not right here....but who am I tell a bunch of smart people that?

So from a guy who spent 120 days in a Tent City to another guy sitting in Samramento's Tent City....if you want to stay and enjoy the freedoms and wonder of Tent City life....then go for it. But if you really would like to move on and get a better deal...then don't accept the deal. Use every chance to get a job and rebuild. Don't settle for permanent homelessness.