“As I walked through the City of Angels, I came across the ‘homes’ of the forgotten, the downtrodden, the fallen.”
L.A. the city of glitz and glam. A symbol of fame, fortune, and the American Dream. Yet, this image is only one side of Los Angeles. Just a couple of blocks east of Downtown L.A. I came across rows and rows of tents with homeless people. I could still see the shiny Downtown skyscrapers and the magnificent Hollywood Hills in the background, as I walked passed countless people who have next to nothing. How can you call a country the greatest nation on earth, when some mansions sell for millions of Dollars, while just several miles further, people live in subhuman conditions? Undoubtedly, this opinion is not going to make me more popular, but this was truly the first thing that crossed my mind when I saw all this.
I sat down later that day and decided to do some research. It turns out that the homeless situation in L.A. has just been getting worse. According to the L.A. Times, the homelessness rate in Los Angeles surged 75% in six years.
The extreme wealth gap in cities like L.A. reinforces the homelessness problem. L.A. has the highest poverty rate in the state of California, which is largely due to the high cost of housing. As the rich keep pouring into the city, living becomes less and less affordable for the not so wealthy. Additionally, there is a severe lack of affordable housing projects in Los Angeles.
Of course, it is easy for me to talk. Here I am at a coffee shop sipping on a $5 latte, but at least the events of today got me thinking; what can I do to help? As a matter of fact, we could all do something to help. Whether it is helping out in a local soup kitchen, or donating your old clothes, sleeping bags, toiletries, etc., every small act makes a difference. Or if you’re a tourist like me, you could simply take a walking tour of Skid Row as I did. Although it isn’t much, just by being aware, we’re taking a step in the right direction. With almost 60,000 residents, Skid Row (L.A.’s largest homeless community), could be a city on its own. If we could just stop for a moment and consider these people, we could work to make this Homeless City smaller and healthier. More affordable housing, higher incomes, more healthcare, and social services would be a great leap towards improvement, but obviously, we can’t make that happen overnight. Instead, next time when you pass a homeless person acknowledge them, smile, and perhaps spare some change. They may or may not spend that money on alcohol or drugs, but at least the ball will be in their court to do the right thing.