On The Streets

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About 44,000 people in Los Angeles are homeless and statistics show that the number of people living in their vehicles has doubled within the last two years. Every month about 13,000 persons become homeless in L.A. County.

However, it all depends on the definition of homelessness because even a tree with a tarp can be considered a home as far as some citizens are concerned. And so many men and women live in tents, in their cars, in trailers, or in other makeshift shelters all over the city.

The ages and ethnic backgrounds vary greatly. Many are young able-bodied intelligent men and women who seemed to have made a wrong turn in the road. A high percentage actually has jobs, but just can’t afford to pay rent or buy a house. So it’s not like they’re unemployed and just waiting for a handout, it’s a matter of not making enough money to make ends meet.

“I’m living a dying dream”, claims one young man who lives in a tent with his husband and a child they care for. Another young man lives in his car because he had to choose between paying tuition and paying rent.  In fact, 56,000 college students identified themselves as homeless. One man calls them ‘economic refugees’.

Some of them describe their homeless state as a setback. One man says it’s not his final stop at all. He says he’s houseless not homeless because homelessness is a state of mind.

A number of men and women serve their time in prison and then have nowhere to go. So they just end up on the streets. Oddly, there is a strong sense of community among the homeless. They tend to look out for each other and have each other’s backs.

But all of this changes when it comes to Skid Row, where the majority of homeless are actually addicted to some type of drug.  People say that when you go into that section of the city you have three days to get out, otherwise you’ll never leave. There has been a 75% increase in robberies in the area and a 91% increase in sexual assault.

The hardest part is not the lack of a roof. It’s probably the way in which society treats them like second-class citizens, and strangely enough, most of them live up to those low expectations.