When 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.