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AP: Liberal US cities change course, clearing homeless camps

Workers carry a tent to a garbage truck during the clearing and removal of several tents at a homeless encampment in Westlake Park in downtown Seattle, March 11, 2022. Liberal cities across the country — where people living in tents in public spaces have long been tolerated — are now removing encampments and pushing other measures to address homelessness that would have been unheard of a few years ago. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

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Sara Cline, a Portland, Oregon-based Report For America AP fellow, documented how liberal cities from Seattle to Austin, Texas, to New York, are taking a far more aggressive approach in dealing with homelessness as they emerge from the pandemic.

Cities that for years tolerated tent encampments in public parks and public spaces are responding to fed-up business owners and residents who say the levels of street disorder are too high. But people who work with the unhoused say newly elected mayors are targeting a vulnerable population to score political points, rather than dealing with the underlying issues of addiction and housing affordability.

Cline worked with AP photographers Ted Warren in Seattle and Rich Pedroncelli in Sacramento, California, to document the increased camp sweeps and highlight the issues of people living on the street.

Her story was one of only two non-Ukraine stories in AP’s top 10 for reader engagement over the weekend and was still going strong into Monday with some 272,000 pageviews.

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