Homelessness in LA

Not everyone is aware of the extent and challenges of homelessness

A homeless encampment in downtown Los Angeles.


A homeless encampment in downtown Los Angeles.

We all see the homeless people in the streets and think how dirty they make the place, but never stop to think about what they have gone through.

Homelessness is one of the biggest problems in Los Angeles, one that not many people are fully aware of the extent of. More than 500K people are homeless and families with children make up 30% of homelessness. According to Spectrum News, “The county’s homeless population increased by 12.7% over the previous year, while the city of Los Angeles’ homeless population jumped by 14.2%.” This shows how dramatically homelessness is increasing in Los Angeles.

Homelessness can be hard and not a lot of people know what happens behind the scenes. Homelessness can be caused by many different reasons. The top five are: the lack of affordable housing, second being unemployment, third poverty (being poor), fourth is mental illness and the lack of needed services, and finally substance and alcohol abuse. Nearly 58,936 people in Los Angeles experienced homelessness in January in the year of 2019 and by January of 2020 it rose up to 66,433, as said in the article on Spectrum News. (Also see Homeless law)

LA has a higher rate of homelessness than the US average because of its higher rate of poverty and higher housing costs. Not only does this affect the people but also the environment. Some people from this community often don’t take trash seriously (or don’t have proper places to throw their trash away) and so instead of properly disposing of it, they leave it out in the streets. Another negative impact of homelessness is human waste. Since people don’t have houses to use the restrooms, most people living in these conditions have no other choices other than to release it into the open. This can lead to having bad pollution out to the public. Drug usage is also a big problem, with some people using substances like Cocaine, Heroin, and Meth, according to Ecobear.  

Homelessness can be dangerous for a lot of people. Nearly four people experiencing homelessness die each day. Some ways that homelessness can cause danger is that many homeless people get physically and verbally harassed. Surprisingly, one out of three homeless individuals have been physically assaulted. While mental health can be one of the causes to homelessness, homelessness itself can also lead to traumatic experiences and can be triggering for some people. Health problems with the body can also be a problem, with homeless people catching many diseases. Some examples can be lung diseases, including bronchitis, tuberculosis, and pneumonia, according to Life Bridge.

In an interview I had with Rosevelt Sanchez, a former homeless person, I asked her, “What was your experience being homeless?”  She answered by saying, “It was really tough and I barely had anything to eat sometimes. It was even worse  during winter time. The only thing I had to keep warm was my clothes. I didn’t have proper shoes, either. It was very rough.” Then I asked,  “What helped you during this difficult time.” She said, “I tried to be thankful for what I had tried to make a living and do better for myself.” 

At the end of the day homelessness is a problem that can be solved. Ending homelessness may not be easy but with the help of others it can be possible. We can help by making homeless people aware that there are shelters nearby. This will make them have a nice place to stay and have the right resources provided like food! Another way is to donate clothes that you no longer need. This could be useful during the winter when it’s cold and people just want warm clothes to stay in. You can also educate yourself or other people about this situation and find solutions on ending homelessness. In conclusion these are the struggles that homeless people face everyday.