Some people backpack for fun. They consider carrying all of their food and belongings in extreme heat with no running water or facilities a sport. But for millions of Americans living without permanent home, this lifestyle is a never-ending nightmare.
When I met Janine one month ago, she was living in one of Sacramento’s now infamous tent cities. She works as a gardener, but does not earn enough income to afford or sustain permanent housing. She says she cannot stay in area homeless shelters because there are not enough beds to meet the demand. Janine has been closely involved in the debacle surrounding Sacramento’s tent city. She even spoke about the issue to city council.
Even still, her efforts to improve her situation didn’t matter the morning we met. The day I met Janine, tent city residents were told that if they didn’t pack their things and leave, they would be arrested. She had saved up enough money to put her belongings in storage, but still did not know where she is going to spend the night. Needless to say, on that dark day, she said her future looked grim.
One of Janine’s wishes was for everyone to be on “safe ground,” a term used to describe a proposed location where the homeless can camp legally with access to basic needs. I still hope her wish comes true.