FACTS ON HOMELESSNESS
Major reasons and causes for homelessness as documented by many reports and studies (and aggregated on Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Homelessness ) which include:
•Unavailability of employment opportunities.
, caused by many factors including unemployment
•Lack of accessible healthcare
. People who have some kind of chronic and weakening disease but cannot get healthcare either because they don't have money to afford it or because the government will not give it to them are simply too weak to go and work every day.
, where mental health
services are unavailable or difficult to access. A United States Federal survey done in 2005 indicated that at least one-third of homeless men and women have serious psychiatric disorders or problems.
, especially where disability services are non-existent or poor performing.
, including because of sexual orientation
and gender identity
•Lack of affordable housing
. By way of example, an article in the November 2007 issue of Atlantic Monthly
reported on a study of the cost of obtaining the "right to build" (i.e. a building permit, red tape, bureaucracy, etc.) in different U.S. cities. The "right to build" cost does not include the cost of the land or the cost of constructing the house. The study was conducted by Harvard
economists Edward Glaeser and Kristina Tobio. According to the chart accompanying the article, the cost of obtaining the "right to build" adds approximately $600,000 to the cost of each new house that is built in San Francisco
From National Alliance to End Homelessness (NAEH)
While circumstances can vary, the main reason people experience homelessness is because they cannot find housing they can afford. It is the scarcity of affordable housing in the United States, particularly in more urban areas where homelessness is more prevalent, that is behind their inability to acquire or maintain housing.
By the numbers:
• There are 643,067 people
experiencing homelessness on any given night in the United States.
• Of that number, 238,110 are people in families
• 404,957 are individuals
• 17 percent
of the homeless population is considered "chronically homeless
• 12 percent of the homeless population - 67,000
- are veterans
These numbers come from point-in-time counts
, which are conducted, community by community, on a single night in January every other year. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development
(HUD) requires communities to submit this data every other year in order to qualify for federal homeless assistance funds. Many communities conduct counts more regularly.
HOMELESSNESS IN LOS ANGELES
Data from the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority (LAHSA) - http://www.lahsa.org/
Full report can be downloaded here: http://www.lahsa.org/homelessness_data/reports.asp
FACTORS FOR SKID ROW’S HOMELESSNESS AS PRESENTED IN 'LOST ANGELS'
The predominant population on the Row is the homeless mentally ill. Obviously many of them are also involved with addiction and, and sometimes you can't figure out which came first, and that doesn't even matter. The fact is, they've got mental illness, serious mental illness…and the mental institutions don't exist anymore. In many ways, it's (Skid Row) an open asylum for the mentally ill. We don't have closed asylums anymore, except for our jails and our prisons. L.A. County Twin Towers Jail is the largest mental institution in the United States. Because we no longer hospitalize our mentally ill, so we criminalize them, because of their behavior on the streets. – Mollie Lowrey, Founder & Former Director, LAMP Community
Reagan closed down all of those places. And they took all the mental people and they, and they, they gave 'em to society. And then where do we go? We don't need more jails, we need more mental institutions, and we need more doctors to come down here, instead of more people passing out sandwiches. That's what we really need. And we need more understanding. We need the awareness that we're not all drug addicts. – Albert "Bam Bam" Olson, formerly homeless.
One of the other important things to understand about Skid Row is that it's not primarily a homeless population, and people tend to think it is. And it's really critical people understand that because if you think of Skid Row as primarily a homeless population, that's one set of issues with one set of solutions.
Then you build large shelters, and if you do it the way some people at City Hall would like it, you'd build them out in the desert. But that's not what Skid Row is. Skid Row is principally a endangered low-income residential community.
In the 50 blocks of Skid Row, there are 65 what we call single-room occupancy housing. Without this housing, people in the area would have nowhere to go. Who in the private or the public sector builds housing for a single adult, whose total income is a $223 general relief check? - Alice Callaghan, Director, Las Familias del Pueblo.
We lost a thousand units in about a three or four year period, from about 2000 to 2004. (ON) It took the city a long time to respond with a moratorium on losing that housing. - Becky Dennison, Co-Director, LA Community Action Network (LACAN)
Gentrification is the process by which new people come in and they have higher income levels, and then economically the older people are forced to leave. – Kevin Michael, Former Lawyer and Homeless
SAFER CITIES INITIATIVE (aka BROKEN WINDOWS THEORY)
The same tactics that was used-- and the Broken Windows theory in New York—(Los Angeles Police Department Chief William) Bratton brought that same concept out here. The same way he gentrified New York is the same way he plans on gentrifying California. – General Dogon, Homelessness Activist
That theory which has been widely criticized by academics and folks in the community, says that if you put a lot of resources into fighting very minor crimes, what they call, you know, "Broken Windows," that you will then impact serious crime. That theory has been proven not to be true, numerous times. But it particularly wouldn't be true in this community, where we had very little serious crime, ever, historically.
- Becky Dennison, Co-Director, LA Community Action Network (LACAN)
SAFER CITIES INITIATIVE:
In September 2006, the Los Angeles Police Department, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, and City Attorney Rocky Delgadillo launched the Safer Cities Initiative (SCI) in the Skid Row community. Although SCI was promoted as a means to improve public safety and bring additional homeless services to the community, police enforcement has been the most significant and consistent element of the initiative.