While the ranks of the unemployed are increasing steadily by over 500,000 per month (5.7 million have lost their job since the start of the economic downturn), millions of families and especially women and children are facing the harsh reality of poverty and homelessness abandoned and alone.
According to a March report by the National Center on Family Homelessness (NCFH), 1.5 million American children have lost the security of sleeping in their own bedrooms. In the richest country in the world, 2% of children, excluding runaways, are now homeless.
Three states have the highest number of homeless children: Louisiana with over 200,000, California with almost 300,000, and Texas with over 300,000. According to NCFH, those that are lucky are imposing on family, friends, and relatives. The less fortunate are sleeping in the family car or finding themselves in crowded, noisy, oft-dangerous shelters. The same organization reported that 3.4 million Americans are likely to experience homelessness this year a 35 percent increase from 2007.
Slowly, the corporate mass media are now forced to start to report the tent cities and the crisis of homelessness that are enveloping large parts of the country as the shaky economy, budget cuts, unemployment, and mortgage meltdown continue.
A recent Reuters article spoke about the hidden homeless, people who sleep in their cars, vacant storage units, or other makeshift shelter. The numbers of these hidden homeless are extremely unreliable, but a recent article in the Sacramento Bee reported that shelters across the country are forced to turn thousands of people away for lack of space and resources, and quoted experts who believe that the working poor and families with small children are facing the worst crisis.
A tent city in Sacramento recently was shut down by police threatening to arrest those who refused to leave. Tent cities, or Hoovervilles in reference to the shantytowns that developed during the Depression, have re-emerged in Phoenix, Arizona; Olympia and Seattle, Washington; Reno, Nevada; Portland, Oregon; Nashville, Tennessee; St. Petersburg, Florida; and Fresno, California, according to the New York Times.
All this continues as hundreds of thousands of houses remain boarded up, abandoned, or taken off the market by the banks. Nothing shows more clearly the priorities of Geithner and the Obama administration than the gentle assurances of providing trillions for the bankers and other Wall Street gangsters while infants, children, and families are forced to face the harsh realities of capitalism.