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Homeless find temporary haven in tent camps
SEATTLE, Washington (CNN) -- In cities across the country, people with nowhere to live have done what many would have thought unthinkable before the economic crisis: moved into tents.
Tent camps once associated mainly with the "Hoovervilles" of the Great Depression are springing up in places as varied as Sacramento, California; Nashville, Tennessee; Pinellas County, Florida; Providence, Rhode Island; and Seattle, Washington.
The camps have often led to standoffs between local governments that say the camps violate housing ordinances and homeless rights advocates who argue that people struggling to get back on their feet need a permanent place to stay.
There are no definitive numbers on how many people have taken to living in homeless camps. A recent annual report from the Department of Housing and Urban Development showed an increase in homelessness among families while overall rates of homelessness stayed roughly the same.
But those numbers are only the initial waves of what could be a larger crisis, according to the National Alliance to End Homelessness.
"This data is the canary in the coal mine," Nan Roman, the alliance's president, wrote on the group's Web site. "Homelessness is a lagging indicator of economic tides, so there is concern that this new information could foreshadow sharp increases in homelessness in the future."