Homeless in Los Angeles

by on February 12th, 2011
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Los Angeles has always been known as a culture seemingly apart from “normal” society. There is the Hollywood area, once filled with movie studios and stars. There is Bel Air and there is Beverly Hills with enormous mansions and restaurants and Rodeo Drive boutiques catering to the fabulously wealthy. This is where the tourists come and this is what the world seems to see as the “real” Los Angeles. Not so. Today, given tough economic times, Los Angeles is home to more homeless, under- or unemployed low wage earners. The economy has impacted not merely the Hispanic and African American neighborhoods, but also the middle class. For thousands, the city has become “Lost” Angeles.

There are now homeless shelters operating in what once were strictly middle class neighborhoods, such as Venice. The LA Times recounts the sad statistics: “A team from the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority conducted an overnight survey in the area and found 202 people sleeping on the streets, far more than usual. (In January, the agency estimated that 51,340 homeless people lived in Los Angeles County.) ‘What we saw were a lot of single people … that need special attention’” (Groves, 1).

Ms. Groves’ article goes on to explain that, in this particular area of Los Angeles many of the homeless seem to come from places other than Los Angeles. In other words, they may have come for the weather for finding jobs in the movie or TV industry, or simply to get away from a strangulation-life in their hometowns. “Notably, nearly 70% were from out of state — Massachusetts, Arkansas, New York, Florida, Costa Rica, France. By day, they blended in with tourists. By night, they were disruptive” (Groves, 1).

There are other figures which list the numbers of homeless as much higher than Ms. Groves’ article: “According to the Institute for the Study of Homelessness and Poverty at the Weingart Center, an estimated 254,000 men, women and children experience homelessness in Los Angeles County during some part of the year and approximately 82,000 people are homeless on any given night. Unaccompanied youth, especially in the Hollywood area, are estimated to make up from 4,800 to 10,000 of these” (LA Almanac, para. 1) Of course, the homeless young people yend to include runaways, a separate and serikouos problem for which one cannot directly blqame the economy..

The economy is creating homeless populations even in areas once regarded as “safe” and middle class bastions of stability. One such area is the San Gabriel Valley, especially Pasadena, where the Rose Bowl and annual Rose Parade mask disillusionment. “Homelessness increased 7percent this year compared with 2010, and 21 percent compared with 2009. Union Station officials estimate that 1,200 men, women and children are homeless every night in Pasadena, and about 5,000 in the San Gabriel Valley. Homelessness increased 7 percent this year compared with 2010, and 21 percent compared with 2009. Union Station officials estimate that 1,200 men, women and children are homeless every night in Pasadena, and about 5,000 in the San Gabriel Valley” (Brian, 1).

It needs to be noted- with shame- that many of the homeless are returning veterans, including female vets. These are men and women who sacrificed a lot and now find themselves all too often ignored.

Homelessness in Los Angeles is, in essence, a social diseaqse for which those afflicted are victims. Whatever the reason, economic, psychological, sexual- there is no joy in reporting the increasing number of men, women and children- families or individuals, who are facing and having to deal with homelessness in the City of Angels.

References:

Day, Brian: “Pasadena’s Union Station receives $11.2 million

Gift” Whittier Daily News, Oct. 28, 2011

Groves, Martha: “Shelter opens doors early; Influx of

homelessness in Venice, Westchester triggers move”

Los Angeles Times, Oct. 31, p. 1

LA Almanac, accessed on www.laalmanac.com/social/so14.htm


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