Brandi Hitt, reporting from Sacramento:
There are no rules and no regulations. Here, at Tent City, you are on your own.
Decius, reporting from the sprawling exurbs:
First world shanty towns.
Look for similar towns to spring up all along the US side of the Mexican border, as migrant workers fall out of work but are afraid to return home because the situation across the border is even more perilous.
But with so much unsold (and unsellable) housing stock in the US, there's no reason for these people to remain homeless. (See Tijuana, below.)
This situation makes "drug war" reform all the more urgent.
From 2006, John Rapley:
Kingston's gang-controlled neighbourhoods are just one result of a growing worldwide phenomenon: the rise of private "statelets" that coexist in a delicate, often symbiotic relationship with a larger state. Large sections of Colombia have gone this way, as have some of Mexico's borderlands and vast stretches of the Andes and adjoining rainforest. Nations such as Afghanistan and Somalia are more or less governed by warlords, and Pakistan's borderlands submit to Islamabad only when the state's armed forces force them to. And the list is growing.
Wandering through many cities of the developing world today, one comes up against the limits of modernity. Vast metropolises, growing so quickly their precise populations are unknown, are dotted with shantytowns and squatter camps that lack running water, are crisscrossed by open gutters of raw sewage, and are powered by stolen electricity. Developing states are constantly struggling to catch up.
In some places, they succeed, barely. In others, they are losing control of chunks of their territory.
Still, although the weakness of the state today is most pronounced in the developing world, the state's retreat is also a global phenomenon.
Also from 2006:
One of the strangest sights in Tijuana is a row of vintage California bungalows resting atop a hollow one-story steel frame. Once destined for demolition across the border, they were loaded on trucks and brought south by developers who have sold them to local residents.
To squeeze them into tight lots, many homeowners mount them on frames so they can use the space underneath for shops, car repair and the like. On one site, a pretty pink bungalow straddles a narrow driveway between two existing houses, as if a child were casually stacking toy houses.
It's not that he romanticizes poverty: he recognizes the filth and clutter, the lack of light and air, that were the main targets of Modernism nearly a century ago. But by approaching Tijuana's shantytowns with an open mind, he can extract a viable strategy for development that is rooted in local traditions.
From last October:
Officials have made inroads in water and waste treatment and keeping outbreaks of pest-borne diseases like dengue fever at bay. But the region's death rate from hepatitis is soaring, and lack of access to health care means asthmatic children may get their only treatment in hospital emergency rooms. Basic health-care education remains an obstacle.
Leonel Lopez, a community activist in Corpus Christi, said the government has refused to recognize that unincorporated shantytowns known as colonias exist far beyond the geographic border and need the same attention to prevent diseases.
From BBC, last month:
The Wall Street Crash of October 1929 was a trigger that quickly plunged the United States from economic prosperity to the depths of the Great Depression.
Millions of Americans lost their jobs and homes, and many were forced to live in shanty towns, nicknamed Hoovervilles after the country's president Herbert Hoover.
From Stratfor, last month:
Make no mistake, considering the military weapons now being used in Mexico and the number of deaths involved, the country is in the middle of a war. In fact, there are actually three concurrent wars being waged in Mexico.
Secuestro Express, coming soon to a megalopolis near you.
From January, Ed Vulliamy for the Guardian:
The so-called Texas Tropical Trail weaves through war-torn Reynosa and Matamoros on the Mexican side, and McAllen and Brownsville on the Texas side, the latter of which declared itself recently to be the poorest town in America. The trail is an ugly, dense urban freeway lined with the usual hoardings advertising "Legal Advice on Brain-Injured Infants Due to Hospital Malpractice" - but which one can turn off at Glasscock Road onto a byway that skirts the river and border, through low-slung shanty towns and agricultural compounds surrounded by barbed wire. Everything is suddenly eerie, for all the bright colours of the birds along the telegraph wires and watermelons sold by the sack-full beside the road. The sky is lurking darkly in that Texan way which tells you there's a storm blowing in, and the bright sun is turning a sickly blood-red. The palms bend in the wind and rain comes harsh and sudden, so that I wonder why on earth I am doing this, rather than heading straight for Houston and the airport.
Sacramento 'Tent City'