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Homeless Epidemic in Los Angeles: A Major Crisis

Updated: Sep 25, 2019

Art by Jillian Machacon

The amount of people living on the streets has never been this high. Endless rows of tents line up the sidewalk under the freeway overpasses in Eagle Rock. Right outside the mall, there’s always a person holding up a cardboard sign, asking for spare change. Walking along the streets, you might pass by someone with a shopping cart filled with their belongings. Every year, the homeless population surges in Los Angeles, with more than 36,300 homeless residing in the city, according to the New York Times.

In order to resolve this major epidemic, locals officials pooled together around 619 million dollars in 2018 to build housing units that have brought 20,000 people off the streets, according to The Atlantic’s Todd Purdum. However, it appears that the escalation in homelessness is greater than this slight decrease.

With the rise in rent, there is no question as to why this epidemic is occurring.

In California, rent has increased immensely, with a 32% upsurge since 2000, according to NPR writer’s Anna Scott. In Cowan’s article on this issue, Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority figures even state that “An Angeleno would need to earn $47.52 an hour just to afford the median monthly rent.” Housing affordability has declined over the years, with most residents earning an average salary of $49,682 in a city requiring $75,000 to live comfortably, according to the Huffington Post. As a result, many survive on the streets in tents and other non-protective shelters.

To make matters worse, several people who have an opposing perspective have taken extreme actions against the homeless. According to the Los Angeles Times, two men, Daniel Nogeira and Brian Araujocabrera, set fire to a tent located under the overpass on Colorado Boulevard in Eagle Rock, causing damage to 45 acres of vegetation, and threatening the safety of people in and around the area. This happened early this September. However, prior to the revelation of the truth, many locals had believed the brush fire was caused by a homeless man cooking.

The following night, a tent in Skid Row was set ablaze, burning and killing homeless man Dwayne Fields, according to the same article.

This harsh reality reveals the struggles of the homeless population in the current age. On top of scraping along day by day, they have to deal with the unfortunate hatred and prejudices that accompany their current situation.

Elise Buik, president and chief executive of the United Way of Greater Los Angeles states in a New York Times interview, “Our housing crisis is our homeless crisis.” She implies that as members of the community, citizens should help. For example, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti and his advisors launched “A Bridge Home,” a program supported by the $1.2 billion from Proposition HHH that builds housing throughout the city, providing permanent shelters in hopes of ending homelessness. Any contribution, such as participating in the Mayor’s Volunteer Corps or VolunteerLA, reaching out to local homeless neighbors through the LA County Homeless Reach Portal, or spreading awareness about this problem would help bring about an end to this major city-wide epidemic. The homelessness problem must come to an end, and it all starts with the help of fellow community members.

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