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Some of Sacramento's tent city residents struggle with indoor living

On the first night he slept indoors in more than 15 years, Jeff Latchaw tossed and turned and fretted.

It was much too quiet. The mattress was too soft. Latchaw got in and out of bed, over and over.

"Just having these walls around me, it's a huge adjustment," Latchaw said, waving his calloused hand around the living room of his tidy home in Natomas. "There's no open sky above me. No fresh air. No birds greeting me when I wake up.

"At times I have thought about going back out and pitching a tent."

Latchaw and other longtime residents of Sacramento's dismantled tent city are moving into permanent housing, the fulfillment of a promise by Mayor Kevin Johnson. They are grateful for little things such as long, hot showers, kitchen privileges and clean clothes. But for some, the new digs and the rules that come with them are proving to be a challenge.

"At times I know how my dogs felt when they were in a kennel," said Latchaw, who is tall and burly, with a ruddy face and a neat goatee. "Sometimes I feel like I'm in a cage."

In April, police forced about 150 people to leave the sprawling encampment north of downtown Sacramento. The community had existed for years, but after it was featured on national television it generated a firestorm of controversy.

Under pressure to address the issue, Johnson came up with a $1 million plan to offer the former campers temporary shelter and, ultimately, permanent housing. Various agencies have been working together to place people, taking pains to accommodate couples and pets.

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