South Central, Los Angeles–The Homeless crisis in Los Angeles seems to only be increasing and the sights of encampments, “tent-cities” and RV rows, are starting to become a permanent staple in South Central neighborhoods.
The city of Los Angeles has a huge task at hand in terms of containment and helping to get the homeless population off the streets. Especially in a neighborhood that has been devastated by the crack epidemic of the 1980’s, which halted and disrupted a once vibrant African-American community.
The city has developed 311, an app and reporting service that allows residents of Los Angeles to request clean up services in their neighborhood.
Yesterday, a clean up was scheduled by the city on Grand Ave and 61st, in a place where there has been a homeless encampment for some time now. Along with sanitation crews, a representative from District 9’s city council’s office was present.
This is the same neighborhood that I was born and raised in. South Central has always been a place of despair and tragedy. Before I left for college however, these sights and level of homeless encampments were not something that I saw in the neighborhood that I grew up in.
There were some women who lived in the homeless encampment sitting on the other side of the police tape. As the crew prepared to haul off bulky items, these women relayed their frustrations with the procedure.
“They are so anxious to get us from where we are at instead of helping us. They knock us down as if we are nobody. They take everything. They don’t care if it’s memorabilia.”
One of the women said that she understood both sides of the coin and if she owned a house in the neighborhood, she might find herself frustrated with the homeless encampment as well.
After the cleanup, where the city removed a stripped Impala that had been on the street, there were still huge piles of visible trash and bulky items nearby.
As I was driving on 52nd and Grand a few hours later, I was shocked at what I witnessed.
A woman sprawled out on a dirty mattress as if it were her bedroom. A man sitting on the corner surrounding by his belongings, with a California flag hanging off his basket. Various spots of tents and people setting up makeshift housing structures.
It truly makes you wonder where District 9 and the neighborhood that I grew up in is in terms of tackling the issues of homelessness.
Perspective shapes reality and what I see is a growing problem, with underlying issues that are not being addressed. The fact of the matter is that we are seeing the results of centuries of exclusion and systematic oppression of African-American neighborhoods, especially South Central, Los Angeles.
The effect has manifested itself in 2018, through the realm of a 40% African-American homeless population in Los Angeles.
A housing first model will never be sustainable without addressing the conditions that has led to this current crisis for Black Angeleno’s, along with a specific plan, for communities that have been specifically targeted.