Sunday, January 27, 2008

The homeless issue

This morning, I attempted to walk out of the Marshall House. My progress was stalled by a lady who was sleeping on the porch, on the other side of the door, blocking the door from moving. A security lady was trying to wake her up. I was glad to see that she was at least dry.

I went across the street to get my milk and orange juice. I saw two sweet rolls that look a bit more appetizing than what is customarily served so I grabbed them. I really was not thinking of anything in particular when I took them. I never touch the rolls that they serve.

I returned to the Marshall House where the security guard, a nice lady, was speaking softly to the homeless lady, urging her to get up.She encouraged me to go up the stairs as well. I would link it but this computer does not allow for that. Anyway, I will try :

"Can I have one of those?" the lady asked me when I was opening the door to the building. I stopped, bent down, and gave her both of them.
"Come on honey, you have to get up. I know you are tired but you are blocking the door", the security guard said.

"Can I sleep with you?", the tired young lady asked. I noly said. "I can't do that.". She was not making a pass at me for
"survival sex" as I believe it is called. She wanted to rest her tired body and soul from the cold and the rain.

The other night I saw a "clump" covered by plastic in the powering rain. I ran out as I told you to check on it. It was a person, evidenced by two feet sticking out from under the plastic. It had rained so much the feet were, in effect, wiped clean and bruises and sores were clearly revealed.

From those two events, I googled certain key words:

Homelessness as issue, presidential candidates.

I looked at the results. They were quite interesting. I could not see where any of the candidates had made homelessness and issue.

I saw a New York Times article, first published in December 23, 1991 during a presidential campaigan. "Homelessness Rises But Not As Issue" is the name of the article done by Steven A Holmes.

That is where it is. The article dicusses how homelessness was rising but it was not rising as a political issue in an election year. It mentioned how only one candidate showed up at a homeless shelter and it was Bill Clinton. At that time, there were fears of a recession and an increase in the homeless numbers.

We are on the verge of another recession. I could be wrong but I have not heard of anyone talking about the homeless issues. Channel 4 did a show on the homeless in Los Angeles County. Whether you agree with the points of views, there is no doubting the fact that homelessness is a growing concern and if people start to lose jobs then the numbers of those that do not have a place to stay will increase.

One can not look at feet sticking out from under a blanket and plastic sheet in a torrential storm and experience a woman desperately needing food and shelter without wondering if more numbers are going to be added to the homeless count on Skid Row.

Anyone can lose their job. No one is immune, for the most part.
I hope the press, or the powers that be in LA will force the candidates to discuss the homeless issue as it pertains to Los Angeles while they campaign here.


dgarzila said...

Homelessness in Los Angeles is a huge embarrassment For politicians. Most politicos will not even mention skid row because it is something so intractable that they won't touch, for fear of trying to do something right and get attacked for being civil rights violators. Look at the past 7 years , and you will see the battle.

Look at Jan Perry , for instance, she has tackled the issue , regardless of what the motivations behind it are , she has been labeled a pariah for bringing toilets , street sweepers on a daily basis , the issue of serving the homeless food out on the streets in a sanitary way, you name it we have seen improvements and she has been fought the whole way. As long as someone makes this an issue than the advocates can put pressure on others to create the housing needed and the services. IF skid row is ignored they can't do that.

I know the reason no one likes to tackle the issue. It is a city wide issue with the NIMBY- not in my back yard fears- all over the city. If you scare those voters with "dispersal" of the homeless from skid row , you won't be elected. This is why I question why , with over 88,000 homeless people in county of Los Angeles , why are people's NIMBY fears only placed on those in skid row being displaced? IT just does not make sense. But during campaign season the opponents always uses NIMBY fears in the surrounding communities of downtown to garner votes.

We shall see if Clinton or OBAMA make it to Skid Row?

I feel that they will make it here. I do believe the Mayor will bring Clinton here before Barack Obama comes to skid row. I predict they will pay a VISIT TO LAMP and the VOA and get a tour of the RAinbow or the St. George Aprtments basically because the JAMIE FOXX movie is in production right now about the violinist who lived in the 2nd street tunnel.

Something tells me they will pay a visit here.

Dallas Cowboys said...

Don, one issue of the 88,000 people homeless you used is embellished. That number is used by organizations that receive funding to be used for homeless individuals. These groups like to make the problem bigger than is really is. The problem is large enough without the additional drama. These organizations count people that love in SRO's, hotels etc... homeless and they are not. They have a place to live and a roof over their heads. Just because someone does not have a mortgage does not mean they are homeless.

Recently there was a very detailed count of people sleeping within 50 blocks of "Skid Row" and the number was about 350 people for 10 straight nights.

I doubt you will ever Clinton or Obama in "Skid Row." You may see Clinton because the mayor has been helping her campaign, but I seriously doubt it.

dgarzila said...

You are confusing the 88 ,000 county wide in any one given night with the 350 in skid row on any one given night.

If you were at the policing skid row forum you would have left with the understanding that the issue downtown has more to do with the concentration in any one given area of homeless , skid row being the concentration that everyone is fighting over.

There are not 88 ,000 homeless in skid row. There are 88,000 in all of the county of Los Angeles on any one given night.

Myself , I would count those staying in the shelters in that count and transitional housing as ok when it comes to counting. Not all sro's are permanent housing. I would consider those in the places such as the cecil and the rossylyn also and the huntington , because the mckinney act is the definition of homeless. If you use the Mckinney VInto act in your counting then you will understand how these people count.

In skid row , if you were to count only those sleeping on the sidewalks , if that is what we are counting, not all of the homeless in shelters , the 350 is correct, of those on the actual streets. We have gotten to this point only because of the safe cities initiative and the party goers coming here for their 3 day binges aren't coming anymore. So now we can see who are the real hardcore homeless , who will not go inside.

The issue of skid row is about the concentration , to me all that means is homeless that can be seen , tents, sleeping on the sidewalks, basically cosmetics, what can be seen. And it irks me to no end when both sides confuse the issue.

And not everybody with a tent is homeless. I was born but I wasn't born yesterday.

Dallas Cowboys said...

Don, I fully understand the 88,000number is county wide,but seriously doubt it. The number is used so organizations can pad their pockets. I am up to date the Safer City Initiative as well.

Keep up the good fight.