For 10 days Capital & Main will look at homelessness through the eyes of the homeless – specifically, by seeing how they meet basic everyday needs.
On a four-block walk from his Venice home, a filmmaker encounters sky-high rents, a pet store offering “anti-anxiety calming anti-aggression” dog treats and gourmet “hot smoked peppered salmon” at Whole Foods. Last December he found a body by a bus bench.
At the center of the homeless crisis are filthy encampments where people eat, sleep and relieve themselves, all within the same few square yards. City and county governments are confronting the problem in creative ways.
Facilities that provide showers and clean clothes encourage the homeless to seek health services and permanent supportive housing.
Homeless veterans live solitary and nomadic existences. At night, some sleep in cars parked near VA facilities, under freeway overpasses or in public parks.
The Los Angeles Unified School District has more homeless students than many school districts have in total enrollment. In response, the district has created some innovative policies.
The story of how California’s homeless find their daily bread is one of luck, charity and resourcefulness—but also of how eradicating long-established communities can lead to worse food insecurity.
Food safety, security and storage are three problems that influence the meal choices of people living without the other conveniences of shelter.
Pets can provide an invaluable source of companionship, comfort and security. That’s especially true for those without stable housing.
A 2017 audit found that in Los Angeles, from 9 p.m. to 6 a.m., there were only nine public toilets available for Skid Row’s estimated 1,777 unsheltered homeless people.
Skid Row porta-potties have a reputation as magnets for drug-dealing and prostitution. Homeless residents say they are afraid of being robbed in them, or worse.
Only about one percent of Los Angeles County’s homeless are able to have full-time jobs, says a report prepared by the Economic Roundtable.
For homeless workers, earning a paycheck can take second place to finding a safe place to sleep at night.
“What was scary about that place was the men were right there,” says one formerly homeless woman. “They were on one side and we were on the other, where we were sleeping. People hallucinated and some sleep-walked.”
A January study found that 11 percent of students on the California State University’s 23-campuses reported being homeless during the past year. At Humboldt State nearly a fifth said they’d been homeless at one point during 2017.
One health-outreach group’s mandate is to get homeless people into sustainable living situations. Even after a client is placed in permanent housing, the team will follow up and, ideally, get the person to regularly visit a clinic.
Dr. Coley King, director of homeless services at Los Angeles’ Venice Family Clinic, explains how multidisciplinary teams work in preparing homeless people for a better life.