Homelessness is a tragic and terrible thing that has wreaked society not just in the United States, but through out the world. But on a closer note to how it affects where I live, having lived in Los Angeles, now I live about forty five miles away from what is called Skid-Row. Having grew up in Los Angeles, homelessness was nothing new, I guess it wasn’t until I got older that I started to notice the affects it can have on society and the damage it continues to do to people’s lives.
The Reality Of The Numbers Homeless
Especially in Los Angeles, there are approximately 58,000 who are homeless and about 5,000 are children and 4,000 are elderly. In Los Angeles it continues to get worse each year as the cost of living continues to rise, and more people are beginning to live out of their cars but still continue to work to survive.
Last year there were approximately 16,000 , that’s right 16,000 people sleeping in their cars called Safe Parks, accounting for 1/3 of the homeless population. But that kind of accommodation is only scratching the surface to what can be done due to space limitations, which in this case there were only 85 spaces. These parking lots have to meet certain safely standards , such as having security guard and many cases restrooms. Imagine living like that and for those who read this and have experience this I am so sorry and hope that in time you are able to recover and live a life of peace and safely. https://laist.com/2019/01/09/la_county_opens_another_parking_lot_for_homeless_to_sleep_safely_in_their_cars.php
Surviving Today comes at High Price
Many times it’s easy to take living in a house or an apartment for granted, for many who still live at home with mom and dad, there is definitely a high cost of living that is making it very hard today. It’s not just in California but all over the United States. Not every state is on the same level and height of Homelessness but California continues to get worse, as the price of a standard studio apartment is about $1400, one bedroom $1600 and two bedroom $1800 and up. Now I will say not all counties are this high, this is particular in Los Angeles, but housing prices continue to go up as Landlords continue to remove housing off the market, sell those properties and those new landlords raise the rent again making it affordable.
Some of reading this may be thinking how do people in California survive there, and you made my point, it’s not easy and it’s not easy just to pick up and leave to another state, such as some of the more modestly price states like in the Mid-west, where housing is considerably lower. But again back to homelessness, this is an issue that goes hand in hand with stagnant wages that have not gone up for many years for certain industries which have left people stuck and many who can’t survive on those salary, even with government assistance.
The Struggle is Real for Everyone!
Although I have never been homeless the struggle is real, I am an educated person with a masters degree in business, but unfortunately wages for myself have been stagnant, but the price of goods, housing has gone up, leaving me at times with a negative balance in my pockets and that’s working two jobs. I know the struggle exist for me imagine what its like those who may not have the education or skills or survive.
Homelessness is not always caused by Drug addiction or mental illness, it’s caused by hardworking folks who lost their job, had no savings, just trying to make it and were forced on the street. There are approximately 1200 veterans in Los Angeles that are homeless people who have fought for our country and are left to fend for themselves.
The Vulnerability of Women and Children on the Streets
One of the most vulnerable groups like I mentioned is Women and Children who are homeless, approximately around 18,000 women. 18,000 who have to deal with the following while homeless
- 40% are survivors of sexual assault
- 55% are survivors of domestic abuse 40% are survivors of sexual assault
- 68% are survivors of child abuse
- 91% have experienced physical or sexual violence in their lifetime
In addition to those things listed above, there is also abuse in shelters , as high as 35% of women reporting feeling unsafe in a shelter and experiencing sexual abuse. Imagine being on the street and having to deal with abuse and trying to leave abuse in the home and just trying to make it and this happens, it’s a horrible scenario.
Per the L.A. Times :
All the great social issues of American society play out in homelessness — inequality, racial injustice, poverty, violence, sexism. Naturally, life expectancy for the homeless is short: about 47 years, according to skid row doctor Susan Partovi, compared with 78 in the population as a whole.
Helping Those in Needs Comes at a Cost
The challenges are enormous not only for those who are homeless but those who are trying to help, because unfortunately there is no magic formula to help those in need, it takes time, money and those in the private sector to make a difference in helping the homeless like Missions and churches, soup kitchens, all who have a heart for the homeless to help them off the street and survive. One of the best examples I have seen who is doing this is the Union Recuse Mission https://urm.org/.
The sad fact is society is so used to seeing Homeless on the streets many just don’t care and feel like it’s not their problem, but unfortunately the truth is anyone can end up homeless, as many are one paycheck away from being homeless. The homeless deserve respect and our attention to their needs as we go home and live in comfort with a roof over our heads and with our families.
Some of the questions that get raised about homeless is, Where are these homeless people’s families, and the sad truth is many of those homeless are abandon and cast out by their own families, some are runaways, some were trafficked on the street and escaped only to be left homeless to fend for themselves. In Los Angeles homelessness is a sad part of our backdrop everywhere we go there is a homeless person, many counties today are actually trying Not to help the homeless but cast them out because residents complain about their property values going down because of Homeless, like in Orange County a very affluent part of California. It’s quite sad to see counties try to physically move Homeless out of sight in certain cities because they don’t want their businesses and home to suffer, essentially pushing the problem aside.
The Stats are Frightening
Some stats to bring it all in perspective since 2013 Homeless has gone up 49% in Los Angeles and within the United States, 3.5 million are considered homeless according to National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty. The figure does seem high and it’s possible, but by https://endhomelessness.org/homelessness-in-america/homelessness-statistics/state-of-homelessness-report/ , Homelessness is estimated around 552,000, which represents 17 out of 10,000 people. Lastly on a worldly estimate, its estimated that 2% of the worlds population is homeless, however about 20% lack adequate housing.
So you may ask yourself, so how does this affect me, why should I care, we should all care about those in Need especially Living in the United States, considered one of the richest countries in the world. It appears especially in the United States we have criminalized homeless by putting them in jail, throwing away their belongings and leaving no access to restrooms, shutting windows to beggers on the freeway. Yes we feel bad, but unfortunately many don’t consider the homeless people, as many homeless experience attacks, being spit on the chastised, told to get a job without a loving touch for those in need.
We need many factors to solve this problem, but lets start with being kinder to those in need, doesn’t necessarily mean giving money, but a kind word. From there we can work with local cities to help the homeless get out homelessness, but its going to take time, money resources and those in the business and private community to do more. I won’t leave out our government because they too have a large role to play here too, but unfortunately fall short on caring about those who need the help.
Take a look at some of the sources of my information and get informed about your own communities and states and countries so we can at least have knowledge. https://www.latimes.com/opinion/editorials/la-ed-homeless-crisis-overview-20180225-htmlstory.html
This blog will hopefully bring more awareness and hopefully open our heart to more understanding to those in need 365 days a year, 24 hours a day.