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Stockton, After the Bankruptcy

By Jane Hwang and Suzanne Woolley - 2012-08-24T19:02:51Z

Photograph by Daryl Peveto/LUCEO

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Overburdened: Stockton, California

Stockton, California, filed for bankruptcy this June, making the agricultural center the biggest U.S. city to seek court protection from creditors.

The city of 292,000 listed assets of more than $1 billion and debt of $500 million to $1 billion in filings in U.S. Bankruptcy Court. The two biggest creditors named reflect groups most likely to face cuts as part of the bankruptcy: bondholders and city employees.

Since at least 1981, and possibly as far back as the 1930s, no U.S. municipality has used bankruptcy to force bondholders to take less than the full principal due, according to experts and court records. Before the June filing, Stockton officials said they'd try to impose cuts on all creditors, not just employees.

Left, shantytowns have popped up near service centers such as Stockton Shelter for the Homeless, across from the city dump.