The 2nd Great Depression?

tent-cityWhen people ask me where I grew up I say, Sacramento. That’s where I was born and lived until I was 16, so I do consider Sacramento my hometown. 90% of my family still lives there. So when I heard of this “tent city” I was heart broken. I know full well the conditions in down town Sacramento. Sure there are nice parts but I know the dark side all too well.

I first ran away when I was 14, I spent one week at least in the back alleys and abandoned building of down town Sac. One I remember specifically. I along with 3 friends slept next to a fire on a top story of an old abandoned warehouse. Stupid, I know, a fire in a building!! We had to hide though because if we were caught, it would have been trespassing and we had to find shelter and warmth. All I had was the clothes on my back, nothing else. I had to wash myself in restaurant bathrooms and it was the one and only time I ever had to “beg” for money. I can’t even believe I am adding this to the post, it’s  embarrassing. You have to do what you have to do right? I’ll never forget that time in my life, and I have a soft spot for the homeless. I don’t get disgusted or judgmental because I’ve been there and remember what it felt like to have people stare at you.

I normally don’t watch the news for this reason, it’s always bad, very seldom good news. I’m guilty of turning a blind eye to what’s going on in the world. I didn’t know about this “tent city” in Sacramento until Monday night. The guys at bowling were talking about it, so when I got home I got on line to check it out. My heart sunk to my feet, I got the most horrible feeling in my stomach. Such a devastation, a travesty! Homeless people are setting up tents and living along side the American River Parkway . I walked along that very railroad countless times. The conditions that down town Sac were in 15 years ago is nothing compared to what I saw. The homeless rate goes up to anywhere from 20-60 people a week! 1,200 people are living on the streets or in cars. They are resorting to living in this “tent city.” Normal people, not you’re typical “homeless” ones. People who a year ago had a house and a job. Every homeless shelter is packed to full capacity. From 2007 to 2008 the homeless rate has risen 15% and continues to rise every single day. The unemployment rate has topped 10% in California. The number of people without jobs in California soared to more than 1.8 million, up 754,000 from January 2008. If that isn’t the start to the 2nd Great Depression…you tell me what is!

This all hits closer to home than you think, it is home, for most of my family. It is my home when I go back for a brief visit. To see where I grew up literally look like 3rd world country is sickening and disheartening. I’m taking my son there in June and I had plans to show him every part of where I grew up. I still plan on doing that but it will end with a much bigger message behind it than originally planned. If you’d like to read more about this or help in any way here is a link for you. There are many sites to look at but this one offers a place to help if you’d like.

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41 Responses to The 2nd Great Depression?

  1. javajunkee says:

    wow! I’m speechless. This is why I’m not on a bandwagon to save other countries (not that those people are not important don’t get me wrong)..we have our own third world right here in America. This mess needs fixed.

  2. shane says:

    That’s pretty sad. It looks like people in prison have it better than they do. Maybe we should put criminals in tents and give these people better shelter. It’s really sad how much this country pays to house criminals. In my opinion keeping people on death row for 10yrs. is rediculous, how much does a bullet cost???

    • Joy says:

      Very well said Shane. How long are you going to keep this aviator?? Kind of unsettling. I feel like I’m having my coffee at the White House! Freaky!

  3. Imee says:

    I share your sentiments, I mean I’ve been “poor” for a while as well… Sure I lived in a normal-sized two story house but it was only because my grandpa bought it for my mom & uncle to share while my grandpa was still alive & kicking. However, we had no electricity ’cause we couldn’t pay for it, my parents were both unemployed, my siblings were still in school, and I remember having to share a can of sardines or pork & beans with our entire family (of 6, might I add). So yeah, seeing people living in tent cities just make me sad… It’s not like I can do anything drastic to help them out, because I’m still trying to survive this recession myself.

    • nikki says:

      I completely understand that you yourself can’t help. But maybe spread the word or the next time you see a homeless person give them a few bucks if your able. I do get that their are some that will turn around and spend that on booze or what have you. I would have died for just a few bucks, instead I got horrible looks and turned down. I could never do that…a 14 year old girl in dirty clothes and all of about 100lbs…I’d give! ty for stopping Imee.

  4. San says:

    This is so sad that a first world country now experiences a third world reality. I am going to watch my words now because I don’t want to seem or come across condecending or non caring when in fact I am. I think the people in the tents see it as a temporary measure, when they start building huts out of tin and scraps like in Africa then the depression is going to be even harder hitting.

    Perhaps the American government (also not wanting to admit it being not so temporary) take a little lesson from Africa and give homeless people alotted spaces with building materials be they dry walls or bricks, put up those portable loo’s and showers and do something for the people.

    How hard can it be? Perhaps some of the rich folk unaffected by all of this can donate these materials… perhaps they are rather just protecting their assets… sad all round. Great emotive post hun.

    • nikki says:

      San…their are active people out there trying to do just that. Make it a safer, cleaner environment. Diseases are brought in and the conditions are terrible, worse than I have ever been in and I have been in some bad stuff! Ty hun…this was hard to write. I wasn’t at first going to add my sad situation but I felt it was needed…I understand it all too well! Sad all around indeed!

      • San says:

        My response to this post was clinical sorry huns just closer to home and a topic close to my heart. I know what it took to step out there and say what you did and wanted you to know that – that smell of the fire, that feeling of the looks, not knowing what to do next or where you’re going, the fear and all that goes with it… it kind of stays with us, some reject it and deny it, others remember it and keep it close in order to relate – you are the latter and that says a lot about you as a person.

        Again awesome post, it meant a lot to read it

        • nikki says:

          I know San…no need to apologize. You know all too well the smell of the fire, the looks, the not knowing what you’re going to eat next or where you’re going to lay your head down. **HUGS** 🙂

  5. That is horrible… It must be awful to see this in a place that is your home, a familiar place. IT’s so scary to think of how easily people are losing first their jobs and then their homes these days. It’s a quiet disaster that creeps up on people before they know it it seems.

  6. trishatruly says:

    This is a sad and horrible scenario for America and all Americans. If someone out there thinks it can’t happen to them, well, they’re probably wrong.
    While I don’t have a huge trust fund, or a rich sugardaddy, I certainly feel blessed to have a roof over my head and enough to eat.
    Thanks for making us SEE the reality of our nation’s fiscal crisis, Nikki.

    I think your kids are going to see a whole bunch more than you originally planned but I also think they’ll come away from the trip with a better understanding. Afterwards, when they see those images on TV they’ll know firsthand what it means.

  7. javajunkee says:

    well as much as I’m all for that “rebuilding” program that you see everywhere. I know we have it in this town..where they go out and fix up houses. Ok well most of those houses are just cosmetic fixes. To me maybe those people should pool their talents along with some governement aid and build some more homeless shelters. It’s only going to get worse.

    this is just sad. and pissing me off honestly! I would think this should be a priority of the new president…not on what kind of dog they should buy. Which since they’ve now decided maybe he can move on to those bigger fish he needs to fry.

  8. javajunkee says:

    btw…Shane….LOL you crack me up. And I like the way you think!!!! I’m thinking we can clear out the prison by letting some pent up women going through PMS in there with handguns!…then we could use the prisons to house the homeless people.

  9. Joy says:

    I know that this is off topic but I agree with everyone’s points above but Nikki, I feel so sad for you that you lived on the streets like that. It breaks my heart for you. To know you begged for food and washed in public restrooms is killing me here. I didn’t know this.

    I hope you don’t mind me saying this but where in the hell was your mom? I’d have called the SWAT team if one of my boys didn’t come home for a week. Hell, a week,?? I’d have called them if they were 10 minutes late. I can’t imagine.

    • nikki says:

      Well it’s certainly not something too many people do know. No police were called, no SWAT, not my dad or anyone else. She was working plain and simple. Never came looking for me, part of our problem now. A big part! I could shock you even more but when it comes down to it no one in this world knows exactly what I went though.
      Some 14 year olds might tell you that they don’t want rules or boundaries…but that is the very thing I not only needed but wanted. When parents give you rules that is a sign of love and caring. I just didn’t have that. Gosh you always make me cry MOM….I do love you very much and am more thankful for you than you will ever now! TY for being my mom now and being such a great mom to your 2 boys.

    • Sue says:

      I didn’t know either. I don’t even know what to say really. I’m with Joy though. I would be calling, searching, doing whatever it took to find my daughter. I’m kind of lost for words…

  10. starlaschat says:

    Joy, I’m so glad you put this story on your blog> I did see this story on the news 2 days in a row. I have been thinking a lot about it. I also started a new book, that I happened to grab at the library. It’s about a middle class man who became homeless, he wrote about his experiences. I’m only on page 54. It’s very thought provoking. Thanks for posting this.

  11. starlaschat says:

    oops Nikki, sorry I said Joy. Nikki thanks for posting this. I think that the difficulties we endure in life in a way make for who we are today. Having compassion, I can tell you are a good hearted person. Thanks for the thoughtful post.

  12. kweenmama says:

    This IS a sad situation. I’ve seen the stories on the news about the tent cities. And then in the same newscast we learn about the multi-million dollar bonuses to top executives at AIG. Wouldn’t it be nice if those rich cats actually put the money where it could help others instead of funding their lavish life style?

  13. tessa says:

    Great post Nikki. I love to hear about everyone’s life and viewpoints and stories. You’ve been through a lot. I think it is the start of another depression. I watched Dateline the other night- we are at 8% unemployment nationwide. The depression was at 25%-hopefully we do not go that high.

    It is wonderful you are taking Bailey to see your hometown! And to travel with him so he can experience this.

    With school-Ben-helping Eric w/school- I have missed many blog posts-I wish I had time to read them all, but I can’t!! You guys do great work 🙂

    I never judge homeless either. I always get teared up if I cannot help someone out on the side of the road.

    I think a lot of the homeless from the unemployment derives from many citizens relying on credit cards and going in debt without back up plans. My grandparents grew up paying cash for everything, my aunt and uncle too, so going unemployed is okay for awhile. But those who have no savings, and owe companies thousands, are faced with the curb. Not always true, but many cases today. We rely on credit too much.

  14. tessa says:

    Oh, if you don’t mind me asking-why did you become homeless at 14 years old? What was the turning point? It must have been so hard. You are strong!

    Shane, lol, what is with your new look!!? I agree Shane-good comment!

    • nikki says:

      Too many things played into this Tessa and are very personal. A lot of bad things happened to me over the years that really screwed me up and by the time my mom finally left my step dad I guess in a way I was free to go. It hurts to say my mom didn’t care, if she did she didn’t show it. Even at the worst on the streets it was better than my life with my step dad. Again way too many personal things played into it though. I do appreciate your concern though and I do like to think of myself as a strong person now, well I’m getting there anyway. ty

      • tessa says:

        Thanks for explaining some Nikki. I appreciate it. I know it is very personal and hard to talk about. I say do not be embarrassed, be proud. Proud of where you came from, what you know, what you’ve experienced, because it ALL made you who you are today. You deserve all the love you give others! You get what you give! I am so, so sad to hear about this. I knew your mom-she has a good heart-but emotional problems and deep wounds I think. I am sure she will live with regret for the pain she caused. I hope one day you both can heal together. It is never too late, but I know both have to want to. Thanks for sharing! I’m a person who 100% believes childhood is most important-and a balance of love and rules are needed.

  15. pammy says:

    You made me cry.I believe its great helping other countries,but we need to look after our own first.In Wpg,Mb.,we have a soup kitchen that feeds the homeless,but I also believe that we need to find shelter too.I do so appreciate my home.I grew up at times with not much and still to this day appreciate all i have.I never take it,ever for granted.You are an awesome survivor in your life.I am only getting to no you lately,and I think that you are a gem in this world of rough stones.

    • nikki says:

      Aww Pam thanks. This post wasn’t to feel bad for me but to make you (readers) understand that I DO know what’s it’s like. I tell you what…not one person in my life will ever go homeless. Maybe that’s why I have such an open door to my loved ones. I get a lot of slack for it but I just can’t help it. I have the softest spot for a person in need. To a fault no doubt!

  16. Nikki: The lessons of your life are vast and deep, that is for sure. I know you did not write the post for this reason, but I feel for you that your only option, as a CHILD mind you, even though you might not have thought of yourself as one at the time, is so sad to me. And also extremely scary. I am so glad that you are okay, living your life and having a happy family of your own; that is a good ending, or beginning, or your story no matter how you look at it. Or, both actually. I also feel sad to have you witness this in the city of your origins; no one likes to look at that, no matter what our beginnings were like.

    I want to let you know, besides feeling grateful that you have brought this to light, but also what great courage and self love it takes to write so openly about an aspect of your life. Put your embarassment to the side; it takes great strength to be that forthcoming, and am SO PROUD of you for writing it!!!

    Send mega hugs to you, my friend…… Love ya! V.

    • nikki says:

      That means a lot V. Truly!!! Sometimes I’m unsure of what I should be sharing to be honest. I mean my own MIL, who has known me for over 10 years didn’t know any of this. But then again she does know more than anyone who comes to this blog. I hate putting “certain” people in a bad light. But the truth of the matter is I didn’t have anyone. My real dad abandoned me and my mom did as well in an emotional way. I’d like to think she’d do it differently now but you can’t undo what’s been done. Some scars are too deep to ever heal, I just have to keep patching them up..right V!!! I love you and I’m hugging you right back very tight! 🙂 Thank you for your friendship. XOXO

  17. mssc54 says:

    This is exactly why making good decisions in the first place is important.

    Cell phone? High speed internet? Multiple televisions? Smoke? Drink? “Entertainment”?

    Americans (in part) find themselves in such dire streights because so many have the attitude of “I want it now.”

    Buy to big of a house. Vacations. “Toys” (boats, jet skis, etc.)

    I feel very bad for people who are just now learning that choices have consequences.

    I feel worse for their children. They are the truly innocent ones.

  18. Sue says:

    I heard this story on the news the other night as well, but didn’t catch all of it. I thought I heard them say that the city is looking at ways to pipe in sewer and water to these tent cities to help ward off disease and such. Did I hear that right???? Let’s let these people continue to live in tents and filth, but show some mercy by giving them sewer/water. WTF? How about helping those people find employment, affordable housing, listening to their needs or just listening to them at all! We do need to stop helping all the other countries and start helping our own. Too much is happening here to ignore it, but yet the world expects us to fix everyone else’s problems.

    I can honestly say, Nikki, that I never did understand how you could open your door like you have done to people who in the end just used you. I understand now. I can’t even pretend to know what it was like. We grew up so different. Don’t get me wrong, we weren’t rich by any means, but we always had food on the table, electricity that worked and a roof over our heads. I know my parents went without and I’m sure we as kids did too, but when you’re young you don’t see it. I’ve always lived by family and they’ve always helped each other out. Where was the rest of your family? Grandma, aunts/uncles?? I can’t even imagine. You are strong and have a big heart. You have come so far in your life that you should be proud of yourself, not embarrassed. I hope you have a good trip home and are able to remember the good times more than the bad and can share that with Bailey. Thanks for sharing such a great post.

    • Joy says:

      I’m with Sue on this. We may not have always had every”thing” we wanted but we always had our families. I can’t imagine what you must have thought of the bunch of us.

      • nikki says:

        Odd!! lol..seriously though, you welcomed me in, no questions, again odd for me. I’ve had doors slammed in my face in the pouring rain with no where to go. It was weird to tell you the truth. I always expected it to end. Never did I think I would ever “belong” anywhere.
        Growing up the way I did had every ounce to do with how I WAS…then I meet this wonderful man and his amazing family and I am who I am today because of that. I KNOW the path I might have (very easily) taken had I not met Jason. You can either let your past dictate your future or you can break that entire cycle and make a new one. Bailey will never ever ever feel like he’s unwanted or unloved or he has no one to go to. He will always know he has his family…no matter what!

    • nikki says:

      Where was my family? Going about their normal life. My Grandma was always there and I knew that. She was already taking care of one down syndrome cousin because her mom (my mom’s sister) abandoned her and 2 other cousins that their parent both died. I couldn’t unload more onto her. As for aunts and uncles, although they were always kind to me, none of them played an active role in my life. The feeling of being able to go to someone, anyone…wasn’t there. That is why I am always there for my friends and family, to a fault I know.

  19. DM says:

    I don’t really know you, but it makes my heart glad to know you have Joy as a MIL and on your team…

  20. candi says:

    Nicole you are a very strong girl and always have been, You are a wonderful mother to your son and a great wife. You are a great girl and I love you. Miss you…… Take it easy.

  21. SKL says:

    Nikki, thanks for sharing your experience and perspective.

    It is very sad to see this happening, but it’s also hard to know just how extensive the problem is. I understand that when they count the homeless, they include people who are living in their relatives’ homes, so I wonder what the real number is. Of course, it is significant and currently growing in some places.

    The comment about bringing water and sewers to the tent city reminds me of something that was proposed (or done, I don’t know) a couple decades ago. A nice chunk of taxpayers’ money was spent on new shopping carts for the homeless. Because after all, if you have no home, the number one thing you need is a shopping cart to push your worldy possessions around in.

    Adult homelessness is really a mixture of a lot of different problems together. From mental illness to illegal immigration, these problems need to be attacked at the source; building walls around them isn’t really going to help in the long run. And although true charity can help, most government programs that simply drag out the helpless state of these people only make things worse.

    One thing I consider very important in the human experience is learning how to live with others – both literally and figuratively. How many of those people in the tents would have been under the roof of a relative, friend, or neighbor during hard times half a century ago? Why is it that sharing one’s space is no longer considered an option for many adults? Personally, I have always shared and that is how I’ve been able to have some security even when I had very little disposable income. Does anyone think maybe we’ll get back to a culture of sharing as a result of the hard times many are going through today?

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