RENO, Nev.â€“ It’s a long way from Wall Street to the rail tracks on 4th Street in this casino town, but this is where the road is leading for an increasing number of Americans.
Here, in the shadow of the giant casinos which mark the downtown landscape of this northern Nevada gambling mecca, as many as 150 people lived in a tent city until last weekend, one of a number of emergency shanty towns that sprang up in U.S. cities this past summer.
With winter approaching, Reno’s tent city was dismantled last weekend, but some homeless are still trying to find shelter.
There are fears many more tent cities will rise next spring as more homes and jobs are lost in this country, a grim sign of the inheritance awaiting a new president, Barack Obama or John McCain.
What stunned officials here was that those in this makeshift shelter, which sprouted almost overnight, were not California migrants bringing their mental health or substance abuse problems to Nevada.
Seven in 10 were from the area, where the housing market has cratered, the tourism industry is in the dumps and construction jobs have disappeared.
These tent cities have been compared to Depression-era Hoovervilles, the shantytowns of the homeless named for the president of the era, Herbert Hoover.
Reno is not alone.
Similar tent cities have sprung up in Seattle, San Diego, Fresno, Calif.; Columbus, Ohio and Chattanooga, Tenn. In Seattle, where as many as 150 homeless persons have been moving around to thwart authorities, they have dubbed their community Nickelsville, named for Mayor Greg Nickels.