In almost every large city, homeless population in America is growing. The homeless population of Los Angeles, California has grown by 12% over the past two years. The entire county is affected by this growing problem. The number of homeless people trying to exist in the Los Angeles area in tents, cardboard/crate/tarp encampments and vehicles rose a whopping 85% according to the L.A. Homeless Services Authority. Homeless census data for Atlanta, Georgia reports that over 10,000 people are homeless in the Atlanta metro area, with more than 40% of them being women and children. Kids roam the streets by day, and when night falls, the kids sleep in cardboard boxes.
Reports state that the problem may be because of increased rents, below average pay rates, home foreclosure, and the lack of jobs. Cheap hotels, motels and single rooms in Los Angeles and Venice, California are being eliminated, which leaves housing for the poor very limited. Looks likes this brings the discussion back to government responsibility and lack of intelligent planning.
City Councilman Mike Bonin, representing the Venice area, said “It’s everywhere now; the encampments are in residential neighborhoods; they’re outside of schools. It’s jarring. It shows we’ve got a hell of a lot of work ahead of us.” The Los Angeles Police Department has tried to get city officials in various areas to accept the responsibility for fixing this situation, in cooperation with LAPD. For years, entities have spent countless unproductive hours arguing over who should be responsible instead of focusing on the problem……and a problem it is…..a monumental one!
Homelessness can be caused by a variety of circumstances, and it is only compounded by tensions, mental illness, and drug or alcohol addiction. Approximately 16% of the single adult homeless population suffers from some form of severe and persistent mental illness (U.S. Conference of Mayors, 2005). Many people who are addicted to alcohol and/or drugs never become homeless, but poor people who become addicts are at an increased risk of becoming homeless.
Tensions are growing on the streets in these homeless populations. Just recently, two homeless men were fatally shot in the Los Angeles area. Violence abounds when drugs are sought and money is short. The more money is needed for drugs, the less is available for housing and other needs. The more people that become homeless, the more mental problems arise, and the more drugs are used…..a vicious circle.
Los Angeles official’s plan is to use national solutions to these problems. Some of these solutions are to create housing, counseling and mental health aid for the chronically homeless. Nearly 26,000 homeless reside in the Los Angeles area. Federal officials have stated that they would house all of the homeless by the end of this year, but then I seem to remember they said that the nation would have a balanced budget also. That hasn’t happened and no one is confident they’ll address the homeless issue with any better result!
“We need shovels on the ground,” said skid row activist General Jeff Page. Christine Margiotta, Vice President of Community Impact at United Way of Greater Los Angeles, said “It’s critical that we don’t lose sight…..and become disheartened. We just need to re-double our efforts…and have a strong eye towards prevention in the future.” Officials are calling for more money, and saying that neighborhoods will just have to accept homeless housing. But it seems a never ending battle. L.A. is already spending $100 million a year on homeless issues, and the only result is that City Council members have figured out that a “new committee was needed to study and develop a fresh approach to ending” homelessness. OMG! …and you wonder why the homeless population in America is growing.