Widespread Homelessness In Los Angeles Increasing

A daily view of Los Angeles

A daily view of Los Angeles

Ruth Aguilar, Staff Writer

As people living in tents, RVs and makeshift shelters become a fact of life in neighborhoods far and wide, homelessness is now an all-consuming issue in Los Angeles. It has been drastically rising in California and people are terrified. Many fear for their lives when they step out of their homes, and then panic and pray for their safety. As of now, there are over 60,000 homeless people in Los Angeles, with the numbers continuing to increase–block after block, tent after tent. Numerous homeless people are flooding the streets of Los Angeles city and county.

With nowhere to sleep, homeless lay on public benches

“It is disappointing to see what the valley has come to. Every street I turn, all I see are tents,” said Luis Guzman (10) when asked for his opinion on homelessness. Many people are aware of the dangers of homelessness and yet, they turn a blind eye. Is it because no one has stood up to the issue, or is it because it has gotten too out of hand for the public to help? We are enduring a crisis of homelessness, and are simultaneously in the eye of an economic storm. We are fighting the forces of high rents and stagnant wages, which is pushing thousands from housed to homeless. At the same time, we are fighting for a half million units of affordable housing. The cost of homelessness and the moral expense to us as a community and region deserve a statewide declaration of a State of Emergency. Many families are sleeping in places not meant for human habitation. Others are just minors, who can’t afford the cost of living here.

It is a race against time, because believe it or not, homelessness kills. Last year, 918 people died on the street in Los Angeles while they were homeless, and this year, we are unfortunately on track to see more than 1,000 people die on the streets of Los Angeles. An average of nearly three homeless people are dying every day on our streets.

Many people are convinced that this is not due to costly living, but rather it is a drug matter or a matter of mental illness. There are few homeless people who claim they enjoy living on the streets and are addicted to drugs. They feel “free” when living without any boundaries.

A homeless man sleeping in the streets.  

As of today, it has been found that 38% of the homeless are alcohol dependent, while 26% are chemical-dependent. With that being said, there is no way to correctly determine what is behind the real factor for homelessness rising so abruptly.

Even so, as Americans, it is quite a shame that we have let our community come to this. It is not too late to make a change. We have to build more affordable housing so that we can house people more quickly and permanently, and we need to do it much faster to cope with the rising housing deficit. It’s a must that we identify federal, state and local properties for converting them for safe sleeping and interim shelters. We need to preserve existing rent controls and we must do all we can to save the residents of our great city from death and homelessness.