Homelessness is big social problem arising from social factors as poverty, physical and mental health, addiction, family problems. Just like any other city or county, Los Angeles county is continuing to struggle with homelessness issue which is on the rise. According to Los Angeles Times report showed that annual funding for homeless program was short by $73 million last year. Even though LA is home to be called for rich Hollywood stars and their mansions, actually walking down the streets of LA you see homeless people with their tents and shelters. High rental costs are leaving more and more residents into poverty. According to California Housing Partnership, almost 1.5 million households in Southern California do not have affordable housing access. Los Angeles is in the top 5 cities in the world for homeless population.
Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority (LAHSA) did an extensive statistics test in 2017 to get accurate number of homeless individuals that are categorized under ‘Unsheltered’ or ‘Sheltered’. As per the results 57,794 people were found homeless amounting to 23% increase from 2016. Antelope valley and East LA were found to be with more increase in percentage (50%). According to race/ethnicity Hispanic or Latino and Black/African-American had the highest percentage increase of 63% and 28% respectively. A lot of this is being caused by extremely low income families which are unable to afford a house. According to same report Los Angeles county requires about 551,807 more affordable rental homes to cover this gap. More than double the people became homeless being victim of domestic violence/intimate partner violence.
Speaking of homeless issue in Los Angeles first thing that comes to mind is skid row which is often considered as disgrace to nation. There are different aspects of boundaries of skid row but most widely known is 3rd and 7th streets, to the North and South and running along Alameda and Main from East to West. There has been lots of history to this place starting from late 1800s where this 54 block area became home transient workers and people running from their past problems. Interestingly also due to last stop for the train station aimless rail riders stopped here as well. Failed attempts have been made over the years to clean out this area over the years. Service providers such as Union Rescue Mission have been trying to rehabilitate people instead of just providing food and shelter.
With new bill passed government last year to fund more money than before. Los Angeles now has a better chance to clear up some of the homelessness issue. There are lots of question raised from this bill. Even with more money there is still a dilemma about the spending methods. Which person gets picked for the help, will there be a quota. Does everyone deserve this service? What if people have different or special needs. How far is the government willing to go for an individual. What if people see this as a permanent living arrangement and not help themselves. There is a lot of research that needs to be done before putting so much of tax payers’ money into projects like this. Homelessness is a complicated issue and people should be provided help but with proper analytical approach.
Los Angeles is trying its best to overcome this social issue of homelessness. It is not easy to watch people in this condition and the City and County of L.A. are trying to work together to bring these people inside homes. Hopefully with dual ballot measures; L.A. County Homeless Initiative (Measure H) and Supportive Housing (Proposition HHH) this social issue can be controlled in the city and people can enjoy the beauty of this city.