Homelessness in Los Angeles Can No Longer Be Ignored!

Kristy Pinedo, Managing Editor

Homelessness in Los Angeles has become more visible over time. Homelessness was always a well-known issue, but you couldn’t see how bad it was. Often, when you can’t see or experience an issue, you don’t connect with it or care. This is due to the news or the government choosing to ignore the issue and not show it to the public in its entirety. They only give you numbers or show you pictures but never tell you how they’re going to fix the problem.

According to the 2023 homeless population by state, given out by the website world population review, California is the only state in red, indicating that we have the most homeless people in the entire country. California alone accounts for 30% of the nation’s homeless population, with 172,000 people displaced at a 6.2% annual rate; just in the city of Los Angeles, there are 69,144 homeless, and just in the San Fernando Valley, there are 9,829 homeless.

It has become the norm to see people without a place to live or the necessities of life. This is the real Los Angeles. Homelessness in Los Angeles is not what you see on television or in advertisements. Homelessness is not normal and should not be accepted as such. Fortunately, I have never been homeless, but I have seen it become more and more visible. People are constantly arguing about having a cleaner city to match our perception of it being a great place to live. However, to have a clean city, we must first help the people who require the most assistance, the homeless or unsheltered.

Homeless tents on Los Angeles Skid Row (photo: Wikimedia Commons)

As we all know, Los Angeles is an extremely expensive place to live, and it’s only getting more expensive as time passes. The higher the cost of a home, the more likely it is that you won’t have one. Many factors contribute to homelessness, including the minimum wage, inflation, drugs, being a minority in a country ruled by white men, and untreated mental illnesses.

Yet the most important reason is that people simply don’t care. Yes, there are a few people who try to help the cause like Shirley Raines. Shirley has been giving makeovers, showers, and food to the homeless community on Skid Row but this isn’t enough (@beauty2thestreetz).

There aren’t enough people who would give up their time to help those on the streets. I feel that the issue of homelessness has been limited to the infamous downtown skid row when portrayed to the public. This image is starting to falter because I’ve noticed an increase in the number of homeless tents set up closer to the valley. Seeing homeless people isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but most of us treat it as such, from giving them a dollar so they’ll leave you alone to completely ignoring them and pretending they don’t exist.

People think money is the only way to solve the homeless problem; money makes the world go round, and money will be required to resolve such issues. This is wrong–money should not be the driving force behind people losing their homes or initiating plans to provide them with one, but this is reality, and it is a harsh one. Just like others, I’ve been waiting for someone to come in and make a difference.

Unsheltered people living in tents near City Hall in Los Angeles, California. (photo: Wikimedia Commons)

Despite this history, there appears to be a bright side to the situation. California Governor Newsom launched a 15.3 billion dollar plan to combat homelessness in December 2022, funding the largest expansion of homeless housing in California history.

This is consistent with our new mayor because Karen Bass promised to address homelessness in her mayoral campaign. With her “Inside Safe” program, she moves residents of homeless tent encampments into hotels and motels so they can stay safe. This plan is expected to cost less than $100 million, and not only keeps these people safe, but also assists them in obtaining employment, education, and mental health care.

Homelessness has long been ignored, but the Los Angeles County Board, along with the L.A. City Council, has finally declared it an emergency. Yes, this is a lot of money spent that will likely come from the public, but it’s worth it. It is worth it because we are helping the world and our city become a better place.

I am hoping that Newsom and Bass aren’t greedy politicians trying to just win the public over and that they will honor the promises that have made. All we have to do now is wait patiently for change.

My impression is that there is a growing apathy toward resolving the problems that plague modern society and our cities. We must relearn how to be compassionate to one another because everyone, including homeless people, is a human being.

The homeless or unsheltered can be families, veterans, friends, or even you. To show such ignorance and hatred toward them is completely inhumane and insensitive. People without homes have the greatest need for assistance; they are the ones surviving in this world as they are constantly on the verge of life and death.