We absolutely love Los Angeles. That’s why our magazine is an ode to the city. There’s just no place like Southern California. We’re known for our movies, our perfect weather, our beautiful beaches and mountains, and of course our beautiful people.
But we would not be doing ourselves or anyone else any favors by ignoring that LA is also a city with a huge problem. Homelessness. Most of the time, no one wants to acknowledge the tents on the sidewalks and elsewhere are as common a sight in Los Angeles as are our palm trees. And while downtown LA is home to the single largest concentration of homeless people anywhere in the country, in the Skid Row area, where it is estimated 8,000 to 11,000 homeless men, women and children, live, no area of LA is immune. Tents and homeless people sleeping on sidewalks, can be found from Santa Monica, to Hollywood, to the Valley. It is a very real problem that is impossible to miss. And the visible people don’t even include all those unseen homeless people who live in their cars and other places off the streets.
The problem in LA, according to a number of sources, is the fact that the city is literally a tale of two cities. The cost of living in LA is notoriously high and there is very little room for error in paying rent. And even when someone has a job the cost of renting in LA is so high that it makes it very hard for people to save money and cover deposits, move in costs and rent as well. Downtown LA is a great example of the extremes. There are numerous hi-rise apartments and condos going up in downtown LA. Often right across the street or blocks from Skid Row. Some of these luxury apartments look out on tents from their windows. But again, don’t think living away from downtown LA solves the problem. It doesn’t. As I said, you literally encounter the problem in almost all parts of the LA metro.
Too many people have the NIMBY mindset (Not In My Backyard) preferring to turn a blind eye on the problem. But that is not going to make it go away. Obviously building more affordable housing is one key. More mental health options and medical help is also important.
It is estimated that many in the population have medical and mental issues affecting their status as homeless. And ultimately, we need more people to simply care about the problem rather than just trying to ignore it. Attention is needed.
LA is a great city. But this homelessness issue is a major blight on us all if we don’t take real action to try to get this fixed. Not only from a humanitarian perspective but an economic one as well.