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31 March, 2009

Squatter villages arise from the ashes of the booms and busts on US west coast

Everywhere, from Fresno, California, to the struggling casino district of Reno, Nevada, and the upscale suburbs of Washington state, tent cities and shantytowns with names like Taco Flat have sprung up to house the poor and dispossessed, says Scott Bransford in a New America Media news feature, which first appeared in High Country News.

In a note, NAM Editor says: These roving, ramshackle neighborhoods were part of the American cityscape long before the stock market nosedived, and they are unlikely to disappear when prosperity returns.


FRESNO, Calif. -- Marie and Francisco Caro needed a home after they married, but like many people in California's Central Valley, they didn't have enough money to sign a lease or take out a mortgage.

They were tired of sleeping on separate beds in crowded homeless shelters, so they found a slice of land alongside the Union Pacific Railroad tracks in downtown Fresno. The soil was sandy and dry, prone to rising up into clouds when the autumn winds came. All around, farm equipment factories and warehouses loomed out of the dust, their walls coarse and sun-bleached like desert mountainsides.

Even a strong person could wither in a place like this, but if they wanted to build a home, nobody was likely to stop them. So Marie and Francisco gathered scrap wood and took their chances…

Over to NAM for the rest of the story

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