New Delhi? Zaatari? No, this is Fresno, California

Tragically, we have become accustomed to seeing pictures of deplorable living conditions in many parts of the world:

We pity the people subjected to the hunger, disease and degradation of those places. We thank whatever deity we may believe in, or the stars, or the luck of the draw that we’re not in those pictures. We tell ourselves that, if we ran the world, such places would not exist, and we occasionally fork over a few dollars to international organizations who are doing something about it.  And, of course, we believe that, because we live in a country touted as “the greatest in the world,” we wouldn’t let that happen here.

But we do.

Fresno, California–the American city with one of the highest per capita rates of homelessness in the U.S.–is our own, homegrown poster child for the kind of pitiful living conditions we mistakenly think are reserved for third-world countries.  Recently, Fresno city officials began evicting homeless people from encampments that have sprung up around the city. They are fewer in number than the homeless and displaced populations living in tents and shacks in other countries, but they are, in fact, our own economic refugees. Some are being relocated into subsidized rental apartments, but there’s not enough city,state or federal funding to help everyone. The next stop for most is…who knows?

The world has a homelessness problem. And let’s not pretend that America is the exception to that rule.