Tuesday, March 01, 2011

LA’s Homeless

As much as we struggle with the homeless camping in the Parkway, there is also a huge problem on the beach communities in Los Angeles, as this article in The Nation notes.

An excerpt.

“Last year, some 254,000 men, women and children were homeless in Los Angeles County (population 10 million) at some point, and 82,000 were on the streets on any given night. Not surprisingly, almost half of them were African-American, though blacks constitute just 9 percent of the county’s population; Latinos make up 47 percent of the county and 33 percent of its homeless. As many as 75 percent of people on the streets are not receiving the public benefits to which they are entitled. Some 20 percent are physically disabled, 25 percent mentally so….

“I am used to seeing a few homeless men and women in the main branch of New York’s public library, where I have spent many hours over the years. LA’s Central Library is more like a dedicated shelter, where dozens of the city’s down-and-out souls daily seek refuge, slouching at the tables and staring with glazed eyes at books and magazines, sleeping in the carrels, hanging out in the bathrooms or forcing their conversation on the patient librarians. “Many of them haven’t bathed in days, they reek,” one told me, looking at once irritated by the invaders and embarrassed by his judgment.

“The problem reaches into every corner of the county. Driving to Santa Monica one morning, I encountered six ragged men at freeway off-ramps and at street intersections, all bearing signs reading “Homeless” or “Veteran” and pleading for food or money. In the seaside community itself, which has its own government but is part of Greater Los Angeles, scores of homeless have occupied the beachfront park for years. Joggers, cyclists, dog walkers and strollers weave around them as if they were merely palm trees, seeming to regard the strip’s denizens as permanent as the upscale shops along the Third Street mall three blocks away.”