30 thoughts on “Urban geography Blog Post #5

  1. Homelessness has become an increasing problem in the United States but is at its peak in downtown Los Angeles, an area called Skid Row. Consisting of thousands of people, the 54-acre plot is the nations largest concentration of homeless people living on the streets and under tarps. Not only are the sanitary conditions horrendous, but Skid Row is also starting to become infiltrated by disease and death. According to Jerry Jones, executive director of the National Coalition for the Homeless, New York City has a greater homeless population than Los Angeles however Los Angeles’s refusal to implement shelter laws makes it the highest unsheltered population in the country.

    Skid Row was originally an agricultural area until the 1870s. When railroads entered Los Angeles, the influxes of short-term workers and military personnel during World War II and the Vietnam War immensely changed the society. In Los Angeles today, two-thirds of the county’s homeless population is unsheltered, forcing many to live on the streets of downtown. Specifically for Skid Row, the majority of the people who are homeless are due to addiction or financial troubles. The most recent inhabitants have been the people who feel they have nowhere else to go, or feel that coming to Skid Row will help them. When addicts come to Skid Row, they are offered a place to sleep, food, counseling and even spiritual support. With this reinforcement some are able to turn their lives around, but plenty don’t. Many addicts use this area to find other addicts similar to themselves, even when police patrol the area.

    However, while temptations to participate in detrimental activities are prominent in Skid Row, many charities and church missions have been offering shelter and food to those in need. Many non-profit agencies have attained and transformed numerous hotels for use as low-income housing and religious missions and 24-hour emergency shelters have expanded their services. In Skid Row today, there are around 6,500 residential single- room-occupancy units in which 3,500 have been acquired and repaired or rebuilt. As well as the single- room- occupancy units, there are approximately 1,000 emergency shelter beds in the area. Unfortunately, as great as these numbers sounds, they do not come close to what is needed to take care of the homeless population in Skid Row.

    One of the more popular ideas to try and resolve the issue was to roam a sector of Skid Row and collect names of stories of individuals living there. Their stories would then be linked to services that would ultimately get them off the street and out of the revolving doors at hospitals, courts and jails. However, from the moment these nurses, mental health specialists, and counselors stepped foot into Skid Row, they quickly received odd looks and many questions. As this movement has just begun, it is too early to know if it is going to work or not. A lot of people who live on Skid Row are seriously addicted, mentally ill, and damaged beyond repair. When I look at the situation in Skid Row today, it is so shocking that we are allowing this to happen in the United States, and that only very few people are trying to solve the issue.

  2. Homelessness is a result of lack of public housing and programs, as well as a plethora of other factors that added to the situation throughout the latter half of the twentieth century. These issues can be seen in the area of downtown Los Angeles known as Skid Row.
    In the 1930’s thousands of homeless and other marginalized people relocated to the area known as skid row because of the high amount of residential hotels available. Some, or many, of these were most likely single room occupancy units. These are attractive to people with low incomes because single room occupancy hotels allow the renter to rent by the week with very low overhead (deposit, etc.). While to many, this type of short term living arrangement may not be ideal, it is far better than people living on the streets.
    The circumstances of homelessness surrounding skid row parallels the general trend of homelessness in American cities. During the 1960’s, the government de-institutionalized mental health facilities, releasing many people in to society to fend for themselves without proper public housing provisions. Additionally, in the 1970’s, Vietnam War veterans returned to the United States unable to work. For both of these populations, single room occupancy hotels were a viable housing option. The images depicting skid row show what happens when options, such as single room occupancy units or public housing, fail to accommodate the needs of people who cannot afford to pay market rate rent in an area. People are forced to store their belongings in buggies they can transport with them on the streets.
    Beginning in the 1980’s, local agencies began to “crack down” on homelessness in the Skid Row area. The thinking of homelessness as something to get rid of is emblemized in the upper right picture stating “Skid Row, population too many”. Campaigns such as these have proven to be unsuccessful. Homelessness is often times a systemic problem related to education, jobs, and public housing. Dealing with these issues will do more for the problem of homelessness than simply ridding the streets of the population.
    A new wave of citizens were forced to take on the life of homelessness after losing their jobs and livelihoods following de-industrialization in many American cities during the 1980’s and 199o’s (and in some cities continuing today). Once homeless, it is very difficult for people to find work, since many employers will not hire someone who doesn’t have a permanent residence. Some homeless citizens revert to noxious trades in order to make enough money to live on. These include illegal activities such as drugs, prostitution, gambling, and organized, but also legal unappealing jobs that the general public does not wish to fill.
    In areas with high populations of homeless occupants, such as Skid Row, it is common for large projects such as high security prisons, hazardous waste facilities, incinerators, and chemical plants to be located. Often times, these decisions are made by local governments without thinking about the homeless population (who is often unfairly disenfranchised). Putting these facilities in the same areas inhabited by homeless people displaces the risk on to the poor who reside there.
    -Kera Lathan

  3. The images of skid row say many things about American society. How if we are the most advanced society in the world (a truly arguable point) can we have so many people who do not even have a home or roof of any kind? The image in the lower right is the most disturbing because these people are camped outside of 601 South San Pedro Street which is The Midnight Mission. This agency has been in existence since 1914! We live in a country so uncaring that a private organization has to be the ones to care for the homeless and they have been doing this for 100 years. There are at least seven people who can be seen in this image who for whatever reason could not make it into the shelter this night.
    The problem can be attributed to a number of factors including the movement on jobs offshore, reduced spending on mental health, and the refusal of society in general to accept responsibility for these people. It is obvious when you look at the people in these images that they do not have access to a shower or bath, clean clothes, adequate or appropriate clothing, etc. When you look at the items associated with the people in the other images it is all clothing or blankets, plastic, and cardboard. They are hauling, guarding, or using a disposable house. The cloth layers are for warmth and the sheets of plastic and cardboard to block the winds and the rain.
    Skid Row is a human junkyard where society has disposed of its unwanted members. The nice thing though is that it is in the middle of an enormous metro area so that the do-gooders can pick and choose which of the discarded they want to rehabilitate or salvage from the ruins. In the deep blue eyes of the curly haired man you can see there is still a man in there. The same can be said for the man on the top left and the woman with the cane. The two gentleman in the center seem to be more lost but that could just be when they were captured by the camera. The man on the curb looks to be deep in thought about something that has frustrated him and nowhere is there anyone to listen or help with his problems let alone provide him shelter. ”But when you give a feast, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you. For you will be repaid at the resurrection of the just.” Leviticus 25:35-36. In this predominately Christian country how can anyone who claims to follow these teachings let anyone go without a home?
    The last image to be commented on is that of the mural depicting the gateway to Skid Row. The artist was probably well meaning in their intentions but what does this sign solve? Will it rally the better off to save these poor desperate people or does it just give them another image to like or pin in their digital landscape? We cannot claim to be a compassionate people when one of our largest cities has a sudo-concentration camp for the poor.

  4. One of the main causes of homelessness is the lack of affordable housing in many urban areas throughout the United States. Along with the lack of low-paying jobs, most of the poor population in urban areas cannot afford the high rent prices often associated within the city. Leaving the city would compromise their chances of holding a job because most of the people in this population do not own cars. Living outside the city would be cheaper, but there are no job opportunities. It is a lose-lose situation.

    Other causes of homelessness are mental illness and substance abuse, both with lack of needed services to battle these issues. Also, redevelopment and gentrification results in a loss of low-income housing, and forces low-income neighborhoods to relocate or causes these people to become homeless.

    People become homeless for various reasons, but many of them are teenagers and children fleeing domestic violence or discrimination within their homes. Many younger homeless become stuck in this cycle, and never recover, leaving them homeless for most of their lives.

    There have been laws passed that, for example, prevent people from feeding the homeless. People have been arrested for feeding the homeless. Some cities are embarrassed of their massive homeless population, and don’t want them populating the center of towns. These laws are intended to drive them out, and are, in my opinion, going against our human nature to care for others. The fact that these policies are taken seriously is appalling, and really makes you question what this world has come to.

    Skid Row is an area in downtown Los Angeles that is almost entirely populated by the homeless. It contains one of the largest stable population of homeless people in the United States. By the 1930s, there were as many as 10,000 homeless people populating this area. A raid of this area took place in the 1940s, and many of these people were arrested. Was it ethical? Maybe. The officer in charge of this raid claimed that “at least 50% of all crime in LA” originated in Skid Row. I bet many homeless people were falsely arrested. In the 1950, the Los Angeles government attempted to rehabilitate Skid Row by clearing any buildings that had aged beyond repair. This was slightly helpful, but the homeless population still exists here today.

    Efforts can be made to lessen the devastation of homelessness such as providing more affordable housing and affordable health care programs for individuals within the city. Many assistance programs have already been initiated to aid the homeless and educate them in ways to be self-sufficient. Other programs exist that provide housing assistance that can be transitional or permanent.

    -Morganne Bryner

  5. These images all reveal some of the characteristics of poverty and homelessness in the modern American city center. Homelessness began to increase greatly in American cities beginning in the mid to late twentieth century. In the 1960s, there was a significant increase due to new policies of deinstitutionalization of mental institutions. Many of the people who were deinstitutionalized in this period were not able to successfully transition to independent living and became homeless. In the 1980s, homelessness began to increase rapidly again, but with different types of individuals. Starting in this decade, it became more and more common to see homeless families, not just the stereotypical homeless single man. The picture in the bottom right clearly shows an example of a homeless family with a stroller in the foreground.

    Homelessness in American cities was greatly impacted by the process of hollowing out, which created an urban donut in the postindustrial city. This left the CBD of cities occupied by government and corporate offices (whose workers commute from the suburbs), very low income housing (including public housing), and ethnic neighborhoods. The industry that used to exist in the city has been abandoned. There may be very limited retail within the city center. Most of the hollowed out cities are food deserts, which forces the poor and homeless residents to get food from convenience stores or fast food restaurants, which are low nutrition and high cost.

    The process of hollowing out the city center helped to create a cycle of poverty, which makes it extremely difficult for impoverished and homeless individuals to improve their lives. The cycle of poverty begins when services and infrastructure begin to deteriorate in the city center, largely thanks to the flight of middle and upper class individuals to the suburbs. When this service deterioration occurs, crime begins to increase. This leads to public services, which have already deteriorated, to become very overstretched. The police department may not have enough officers to respond to all crimes, but other public services are also affected. Education, for example, is frequently the most overstretched of all public services. Inner city schools, unless they are part of a unified school district, frequently suffer from a lack of necessary supplies, high teacher turnover, an insufficient number of staff, etc. The next part of the cycle of poverty is when individuals turn to the informal economy (such as gangs) or noxious trades to make a living. However, even many of the noxious trades in inner cities do not employ inner city residents, as they require more skilled employees. Therefore, these noxious trades, like prisons, chemical plants, hazmat disposal, etc., displace their risk onto the poor and homeless population of the inner city.

    In recent years, gentrification and redevelopment of cities has become more popular, but these processes have extremely negative effects on the homeless and poor populations. When the redevelopment is complete, the poor and homeless are completely removed from the redeveloped area, because the middle/upper class gentrifiers do not want to be surrounded by people different than them. The displacement of these poor and homeless people away from the city center makes it even more difficult for them to find jobs and pull themselves out of poverty and/or homelessness. Even worse for homeless people, the process of redevelopment usually involves removing homeless shelters completely, making it more difficult for them to fulfill their most basic needs.

  6. Skid Row: a View Into America’s Future

    Homelessness is a problem common to most metropolitan areas, but skid row is among the most famous conglomeration of homeless people. However—as Alice Callaghan, the director of skid row’s Las Familias del Pueblo, says—skid row is “not primarily a homeless community,” as most people believe, but “an endangered low-income residential community.” Skid row has around 65 single occupancy housing units, according to Callaghan, which are endanger of being converted, in the process of gentrification, into lofts. In fact General Dogon, a community outreach officer for the Los Angeles Community Action Network (LA CAN), said that “they had to go to the community redevelopment agency to get a moratorium to stop the immediate conversion of low income housing units into condos and lofts.
    A majority of the homeless population at skid row are mentally ill. There was a closing of a lot of mental institutions and the people in those institutions were told they had to make it on their own. So they got dumped into the streets. And, as Callaghan says, the LA twin towers correctional facility is the “largest mental institution.”
    Skid row was created to consolidate the homeless population. The thinking was that if the homeless people were all lumped up together it would make services more directed and accessible. One such service goes by the name of Lamp Lodge, which is part of a larger national organization Lamp Community (LC). LC uses what is called a Housing First approach to rehabilitating these unfortunate individuals to allow them a chance to be self-sufficient. They allow the residents to choose in which services they want to participate. This model is extremely successful. According to their website, ninety five percent of people housed by Lamp stay housed for one year or more, one of the highest success rates in the nation.
    The population of Skid Row is highly diverse. There are multiple ethnicities with varying desires. Most of these people have dreams. There is a very interesting couple who lives on Skid Row, they call each other husband and wife or their fiancés. The man in the relationship is a tall black man who grew up on a ranch among horses and would one day like to own a ranch of his own. The woman in the relationship seems much older and, although she has an apartment, she usually decides to be on the streets to patrol the neighborhood for hungry cats for which to feed. And she doesn’t even cheap out on the food. There is another man who was an extremely successful athlete. He ran in high school and was given a scholarship for college due to his athletic ability. He then went on to win a silver medal at the Olympics. So his fall from grace was quite dramatic, which started when he was stricken with the illness of addiction. But because the war on drugs imprisons addicts, instead of treating the disease, he had little hope of recovery.
    What is the point of making all these distinctions with other homeless communities? Well, according to Alice Callagan, the unique nature of Skid row—that of being primarily a low-income housing community—has a differing set of solutions. She calls for saving Skid Row because gentrifying the area would mean having to build an expensive shelter network. “It makes good economic sense, not just social sense” said Callagan. She also adds that there are plenty of empty lofts in the area which could be converted into low-income housing. There are people who are fighting this gentrification process. Becky Dennison, the director of LA CAN, is one such individual. According to her the area lost 100 units in three years from about 2000 to 2004 because it took a long time for the government to respond to the moratorium. I guess the politicians think, since most residents of skid row are poor, that they would not contribute to their re-election efforts.
    We all know that homelessness and the lack of adequate low-income or public housing—something which was caused by anti-communist sentiment, as we discussed in class—is a serious issue in all major metropolitan areas. Skid row shows us that every homeless community is slightly different and that each would benefit from a personalized approach to a solution. Hopefully with the rising tide of progressivism, which has become highlighted in the 2016 election cycle, we can change the rhetoric of politics to start discussing the issues that really matter.

  7. The provision of housing for the homeless is seeing in the United States as a problem, since this is money that is invested from the government to keep this system working. However, it is also implied that people that have social housing do not have a piece of stake in the economy for the collection of property taxes.
    In Europe especially we have seen a different scenario, social housing for the homeless is seeing as a way of keeping the population controlled in case of social revolution.
    I personally consider that gentrification was and is one of the main factors that originate a high number of homeless people. The process of hollowing out of the cities has proven to lead to the circle of poverty and this something that totally makes senses. The hollowed out cities end up having problems such as heath care access; access to fresh food and in some cases access to school is most of the time scarce. It’s complicated for an individual or a family to scape the circle of poverty under these circumstances. The practice of drawing a red line around a low-income area is seen to me as way of taking a house away and many other things to people that in the long run takes them to be even poorer. If people living in a low-income area cannot request a mortgage loan they will not have the means to repair their houses and therefore they will have to leave and become homeless.
    The number of homeless people has increased dramatically in the United due to the elimination of the program that granted government money for the homeless to pay for single room occupancy. Programs like this served the purpose of offering homeless individuals or families that did not have shelter and education the means to recover from being living in the streets.

    In some states in the United States is considered illegal to offer help to a homeless person. It was mentioned in class that is seen as unsanitary to offer these people food. I don’t consider that offering food to these people is more unsanitary than looking for food in the trash cans or any other place that can contain much more bacteria and viruses. These people will not be able to leave that cycle of poverty if they are not provided the basic tools to stop living that live.
    Medicine Hat in Alberta Canada is one of the first Canadian cities that were able to eliminate homeliness completely. This city created a mandate that requires that a person who has spent 10 days or more on the streets or a shelter have access to housing facilities.
    Once city officials in the city of Medicine Hat in Alberta Canada learn of an individual or family living in the conditions of a homeless person, that person or the entire family are moved into a house or an apartment. According to the mayor of the city this usually takes no more than ten days.

  8. The six presented images all highlight the homelessness epidemic we are facing in countless communities across the United States. The majority of these people are forced into living outside of conventional society, not because they are lazy and have no work ethic, but often because they are suffering from a number of social and personal issues. These issues can be personal, like mental health problems, both standard and trauma induced. As well as social problems like the cycle of poverty which keeps our lowest income citizens in a poverty feedback loop, eventually leading many to become homeless. An alarming new trend is the number of homeless youth in the United States, either staying at a friend’s house or on the streets. For one reason or another people cannot conform to some of the confusing, and arguably disheartening aspects of our society, and thus are threatened to live outside of society, homeless.

    Looking at the given photographs of the homeless it is fair to say that 20-25% of them are suffering from mental health issues, according to the National Coalition for the Homeless. Without appropriate support these various mental illnesses can effectively bar people from holding down jobs and successfully functioning in society. These support systems can come in the form of families or state and federal programs. The National Coalition for the Homeless also notes that these mental issues can also weaken familial and other bonds and make it difficult to create a stable relationship. Not all mental illnesses you are born with however, it can also be induced through trauma. Many homeless in the US today are service veterans who have acquired illness’s like PTSD and the healthcare and services they receive are inadequate.

    Difficult, and debatably unjust, social conditions also contribute to the homelessness epidemic. Social conditions like the so called “Cycle of Poverty” witch continually fiscally squeezes the poorest among us. The Cycle is reinforced by and consists of 3 parts, first there are a bunch of low income citizens, many in public housing which is generally lacking in the US. Second, because of low rent values landlords stop maintain their properties. Third, because of lack of maintenance the property values begin to sharply decline, leaving the tax revenue for the area very low and removes needed services. Other social practices contribute to this cycle as well. For example, the illegal process of red-lining, in which banks essentially draw a red line around an area and refuse to provide loans there. This can suck the private capital out of neighborhoods and cause house values to collapse. The new issue in the persistent homeless problem is the disturbing number of young people that now have no permanent housing and supervision.

    According to safehorizon.org in New York alone 7,400 people under the age of 24 are homeless. And of these 39% of the homeless population is under the age of 18. This hard living on the street can have dangerous consequences with, according to safehorizon.org, an estimated 43% of young men and 39% of young women saying they’ve been assaulting with a weapon while living on the streets.
    -MH

  9. Homelessness has become a very big problem in the United States. There is currently somewhere around 600,000 homeless people in the United States at the moment. In a recent approximation, an estimated 1.6 million people used transitional housing or emergency shelters. Of these people, approximately 1/3 are members of households with children; this is a nine percent increase since 2007. Although there are generally around 600,000 people at any given time homeless in the United States, upwards to 3 million people experience homelessness each year. Demographically, homelessness is made up of 78% adults, 61% of which are males. 62% of the homeless populations are members of a minority group, and 38% of homeless people in the United States have a disability of some kind.

    The two largest populations of homelessness in the United States are located in the cities of Los Angeles and New York. Skid row (as pictured in these photos) is an area of Downtown Los Angeles. Skid Row was defined in a decision in Jones v. City of Los Angeles as the area east of Main Street, south of Third Street, west of Alameda Street, and north of Seventh Street. Skid row has one of the largest constant populations of homeless people in the United States. It is estimated that there are between 3,000 and 6,000 people homeless in this area at any given time.

    Historically, at the end of the 19th century, a number of residential hotels opened in the area as it became home to a transient population of seasonal laborers. By the 1930s, Skid Row was home to as many as 10,000 homeless people, alcoholics, and other people on the margins of society.

    More recently, skid row has been part of a patient dumping scandal. In September 2005, hospitals and law enforcement agencies were discovered to be dumping homeless people on Skid Row. The mayor at the time, Antonio Villaraigosa, ordered an investigation. The LA City attorney investigated more than 50 of the reported cases of dumping in the area. In 2007, the city attorney filed charges against one hospital (Kaiser Permanente). However, there were not really any laws against what they were doing at the time, so they were charged with false imprisonment. Because of the lack of legal recourse available to fight the patient dumping on skid row, California legislation was created against it in 2007.

    To fight homelessness in America, we will have to do multiple things. Firstly, communities should consider the many ways mainstream resources, such as Medicaid or Temporary Aid to Needy Families (TANF), can enhance those efforts, as these programs are designed to help lift people out of poverty. Secondly, communities will have to help support the financing of affordable housing. It has been shown that families who are rapidly rehoused are more likely to stay in a home 12 months after exiting homelessness than families who have to rely on temporary shelter before securing permanent housing. Thirdly, in order to help lift people out of poverty and avoid homelessness, families and individuals need access to jobs that pay well and support during an unforeseen crisis, such as a medical emergency or being laid off.

  10. The images represented here, with the exception of that of the map, illustrate the struggle of millions across America. Poverty and homelessness have become the Achilles heel of what has come to be known as the greatest country in the world.

    While capitalism has spawned legions of affluent citizens with lavish lifestyles who have achieved ‘the American dream’, and provided opportunities for countless other people to improve their socio-economic status, it has also provided the fuel that drives the divide between the haves and the have nots, and reinforces a system that sets people up to fail.

    Skid Row in Los Angles has become the poster child for homelessness in America and by extension, the failings of the capitalist system. Initially, the area was the last stop on the railroad and over time evolved into a transient neighborhood with migratory workers settling there. Cheap housing also provided prime conditions for more people of lesser means to move in and take up residence.

    With the hollowing out of cities and flight to the suburbs, Skid Row began to serve as the ‘ideal’ place to sequester the homeless and the unwanted – since the city was far enough away from the suburbs and was no longer seen as a desirable place to live.

    Returning war veterans (many of whom suffered post-traumatic stress syndrome) who had been unable to properly re-integrate into society also found themselves on Skid Row. The de-institutionalization of facilities for the mentally challenged added to the dynamic of the ‘development’ of the area when it also became a dumping ground for former mental patients, and people with addictions and other afflictions.

    The population has subsequently grown to alarming proportions – ten percent of the 17 000 people that live on Skid Row are homeless.

    But what makes the area seen as the battleground for the future of Los Angeles (and parallels the story of cities with similar challenges) is the fact that Skid Row has the largest unsheltered population in the United Sates.

    Even though New York has the highest population of homeless people of any state, it also has is a right to shelter mandate. Skid Row, however, does not. This could be due in part to the fact that the area lacks a colder climate and people might be less likely to die there – this could therefore give government officials a ‘moral pass’ or rationale against enacting any legislation to effect right to shelter.

    The struggle of life and death is real in an area one article described as being ‘bivouacked with tents’. To say that the people subsisting on Skid Row lack the basic necessities, and live in sub-human conditions would be an understatement of colossal proportions.

    While charities in Skid Row do their best to provide food for residents, this alone cannot stem the cycle of poverty and homelessness these people are forced to endure. They fight a daily battle against a system that does not do enough for its citizens – with those with or without mental issues.
    What is sad, is that capitalism does not have to be the determining factor of the fate of the residents of Skid Row. If more people with the means were willing to help and give these people a chance by seeing them as people and worthy, valuable members of society then perhaps areas like Skid Row would not exist.

    One can only hope.

    The top image in the middle had the message right: What is the population for Skid Row (or similar areas)? Too many.

  11. The images represented here, with the exception of that of the map, illustrate the struggle of millions across America. Poverty and homelessness have become the Achilles heel of what has come to be known as the greatest country in the world.

    While capitalism has spawned legions of affluent citizens with lavish lifestyles who have achieved ‘the American dream’, and provided opportunities for countless other people to improve their socio-economic status, it has also provided the fuel that drives the divide between the haves and the have nots, and reinforces a system that sets people up to fail.

    Skid Row in Los Angles has become the poster child for homelessness in America and by extension, the failings of the capitalist system. Initially, the area was the last stop on the railroad and over time evolved into a transient neighborhood with migratory workers settling there. Cheap housing also provided prime conditions for more people of lesser means to move in and take up residence.

    With the hollowing out of cities and flight to the suburbs, Skid Row began to serve as the ‘ideal’ place to sequester the homeless and the unwanted – since the city was far enough away from the suburbs and was no longer seen as a desirable place to live.

    Returning war veterans (many of whom suffered post-traumatic stress syndrome) who had been unable to properly re-integrate into society also found themselves on Skid Row. The de-institutionalization of facilities for the mentally challenged added to the dynamic of the ‘development’ of the area when it also became a dumping ground for former mental patients, and people with addictions and other afflictions.

    The population has subsequently grown to alarming proportions – ten percent of the 17 000 people that live on Skid Row are homeless.

    But what makes the area seen as the battleground for the future of Los Angeles (and parallels the story of cities with similar challenges) is the fact that Skid Row has the largest unsheltered population in the United Sates.

    Even though New York has the highest population of homeless people of any state, it also has is a right to shelter mandate. Skid Row, however, does not. This could be due in part to the fact that the area lacks a colder climate and people might be less likely to die there – this could therefore give government officials a ‘moral pass’ or rationale against enacting any legislation to effect right to shelter.

    The struggle of life and death is real in an area one article described as being ‘bivouacked with tents’. To say that the people subsisting on Skid Row lack the basic necessities, and live in sub-human conditions would be an understatement of colossal proportions.

    While charities in Skid Row do their best to provide food for residents, this alone cannot stem the cycle of poverty and homelessness these people are forced to endure. They fight a daily battle against a system that does not do enough for its citizens – with those with or without mental issues.
    What is sad, is that capitalism does not have to be the determining factor of the fate of the residents of Skid Row. If more people with the means were willing to help and give these people a chance by seeing them as people and worthy, valuable members of society then perhaps areas like Skid Row would not exist.

    One can only hope.

    The top image in the middle had the message right: What is the population for Skid Row (or similar areas)? Too many.

    – Tamara Stuart

  12. Homelessness is currently a major issue in the U.S., and not by the white collar definition either (it makes our cities and neighborhoods unsafe, dirty, and tacky) but rather in the sense that many major cities throughout the U.S., and smaller cities too (including Fayetteville), are not taking the issue seriously, and in turn are marginalizing their homeless population. It seems that the easier thing for citizens in places like Fayetteville to do is to view our homeless population as perpetual and directionless wanderers, but in reality, they are residents just like anyone else who lives here, and how are they treated? Not as such, for certain. In some places feeding the homeless is illegal as it is seen as a sanitation issue, kind of like urinating in public is seen as a sanitation issue, and this is not the dignity or respect that a human being who has gone through incredible hardship should receive by law. On the topic of law, homelessness is illegal in some places like Santa Cruz, CA, and a hundred or so smaller cities. But even in these cities, the idea of homelessness is not illegal, but rather, the activities associated with it (camping, sleeping on benches, etc.), which in turn gives the local politicians and supporting public the ability to justify this a way of “protecting the health and future of the town” rather than directly stating that a homeless population could maybe really benefit from an emergency shelter or emergency housing, along with a free health clinic, free mental health and rehabilitation clinic, and maybe even a food line provided by a local non-profit. But in many, many cases, homelessness is not directly seen as the result of a bigger problem, but rather as a lazy, carefree way of life, which is not based in reality, but rather in propaganda and ignorance. Even in places like Fayetteville, we would think that our population has more of a conscious regarding our homeless population, but actually, as our out-of-state student population increases, not only does massive and horribly constructed pre-fab housing pop up to replace maybe ten old homes that had been there since I was a child, but also developers are moving into low-income residential areas, buying the property, razing the old home, and building a brand-new, modern-looking home. Along with this gentrification of South Fayetteville, Seven Hills Homeless Shelter, a shelter that has been around for years, has slowly been pushed from its former location on MLK, to a space way out on South School Ave. Of course a non-profit is responsible for itself regarding rent prices and revenue, but the city provides no assistance to Seven Hills, nor to our large homeless population. The entire trail system, the police ATV, the pre-fab homes, the outrageous apartment complexes (STERLING-FRISCO), they are changing the atmosphere of this town, and in turn pushing out the homeless population further and further from the center. Are we trying to cultivate a positive image for new U of A students? Is there a relationship between our university and the city that is perpetuating the creation of a new and falsely represented visage for our population? The idea remains to be seen, but the path being built is not one that will be particularly welcoming of Fayetteville’s homeless population in the near future.
    The case of Fayetteville is true for many other cities throughout our country. There is not one-step solution, but there is a path that leads to prosperity for those in need, and it begins with community acceptance of the idea that the homeless of a city are residents too– they have a right to use every facility as equally as would a housed resident, and they have a right to be a part of the community. It also contains the recognition that the homeless population have suffered hardships and need public assistance, they are not just “free-riders”, along with the idea that the cycle of poverty has no single solution, but requires the solving of multiple societal issues like access and affordability of physical and mental health care, state-funded (or subsidized) rehabilitation facilities or non-profit rehab facilities, emergency shelters or free public housing, access to free or affordable education, and many, many more things of the like. And regarding education, it is not just for the homeless population, but for the housed population as well, to understand the way in which homelessness occurs, along with proper education in wealth disparity, it’s causes, and possible solutions. Education is one of the only things that can begin to eliminate the narrow ideas fed to the public by the media, politicians, and uneducated school teachers and family members.

  13. Skid Row is an area in downtown Los Angeles that contains the largest unsheltered homeless population of people living and sleeping on the streets. Here the homeless sleep on the sidewalk, under tarps, and in make shift shelters. All six images show the poor and densely crowded conditions of life here. The picture that stands out the most is the city limit sign of Skid Row that says the population is too many. Some sources say there are anywhere from 4,000 to 17,000 homeless people living in approximately a 54 block area in Southeast Los Angeles.
    Back in the 1800s skid row was the last stop on the train station and a place for aimless wanderers, hobos, and people running away from there lives. This continued for over a hundred years and filled up with immigrants, poor, and men who were headed west looking for new lives but couldn’t afford so. Skid row filled up with hotels that served as homes for the railway workers and since they were primarily male workers this area saw a growth in bars and whorehouses. These factors also led to men losing money and creating a permanent home for themselves in the slums. The demographics of the area became predominately white male and usually older. After the world wars many veterans returned here seeking services. Then in the 1970s skid row saw an increase in veterans from Vietnam, people who suffered from alcoholism, and addiction. The hotels built long ago became unsafe and outdated and owners could not raise rents due to the increasingly poor population so demolition occurred which pushed more people out to the streets. In 1975, the Los Angeles community put in effort to renovate old hotels and single family homes in order to house the homeless displaced on the streets. However, the homeless population was larger than could be taken care. In the 90s the predominant white male population saw a shift in demographics with the arrival of women, children, and people of color.
    The factors that lead to homelessness include war veterans who cannot find jobs after war who become addicted to substances or alcohol, families torn up by divorce or other factors, and those with mental illnesses. All these factors can be found in nearly the entire homeless population of Skid Row.
    Skid Row today is facing the possibility of gentrification which would displace up to 17,000 people unable to buy a home or survive on their own. One block of Los Angeles shows the new, renovated city and then another block over you see the slums creating an eyesore for the city. Skid Row conditions are smelly, unsanitary, and a breeding ground of disease. America, the greatest country in the world, hosts an area entirely made up of “undesirables” and no place to put them. Gentrification over the area in going to happen slowly but surely and hopefully in the meantime a real plan of action is taken to figure out the problem of displacement of people either too poor or mentally unstable to make it on there own.

    Jessica Nelson

  14. According to the National Alliance to End Homelessness, at any given time there are approximately 564,708 homeless people in this country. That is almost the population of a couple states in America. Even here in Fayetteville, there is a substantial homeless population. In the major population areas there are typically areas in which they form communities. In Fayetteville, they are typically found around the Martin Luther Kind Blvd, and there is stories of crime(such as murder) around that area. In Los Angeles a large homeless population is found in a area known as Skid Row. Los Angeles in notorious for having very substandard homeless shelter policies. I’ve read the amount of people homeless people range from about 6000 to 11000 individuals who are homeless. If my math is correct, that is about 2,500 homeless people per sq. mile in that area. Compare that to the population density of Fayetteville, which is only 1500 people per sq. mile, and you can see that it’s a huge problem in our country.

    The question becomes what can we do with all of these homeless people. A decent amount of them struggle with either mental disabilities, and addictions to drugs and alchohol. Should we have more homeless shelters throughout the country? Should we have more treatment facilities for homeless people? The easy answer to that is a obvious yes! Although the answer is alot more complicated then that. In order to run these types of facilities to help the homeless, it has to be paid for. Does the average American citizen want there tax dollars to go to the less fortunate, or would they want the taxes they pay for go to things that can improve there own lives? Most American would look at this situation as they made their mistakes in the past, and the homeless situation is not their problem to fix. They would rather see that money create parks for their kids to play on. I would answer those people by saying without more homeless shelters the homeless people could end up on those parks, making it a less desirable place to take kids. Here is Fayetteville, there has been a couple of violent crimes between homeless individuals along trails in parks in Fayetteville.

    Once a person becomes homeless it is hard for them to find their way back into society. Not all of them struggle with mental illness and addiction. Some homeless people were just unluckily laid off from their jobs. Once homeless, its hard because a lot of companies will not hire someone who is homeless. There is a huge need for more homeless shelters in this country. Nobody should be forced to sleep without shelter in a country as advanced as ours, especially when took into account the number of homeless veterans in the United States. I believe instead of just shelters in our country, we need to create programs for homeless people to either get the treatment that they need to get back on their feet or a program that would help homeless people get jobs to perform. I think they should be able to work for the shelter they get, plus be able to make some extra money while they are there. Then use the money to be able to get there own residence and get back on stable ground.

  15. Homelessness has been a part of major cities in the United States, as well as around the world, for many decades. These homeless populations often congregate together to form their own communities in areas on the outskirts of cities or areas where there isn’t a high concentration of development. Homelessness is the extreme expression of the cycle of poverty – through redlining, public housing, or single room occupancy. Irregular income becomes a way for people to make money, often selling drugs or bootlegging. Today, homelessness affects families the most due to medical expenses that lead to families being put out on to the street.
    Informal Economy and Informal Housing are a byproduct of homelessness. Low average income means a limited market for traditional commercial goods, which leads to the informal economy. This economy is composed of a variety of jobs that aren’t typical commercial jobs, such as selling drugs or bootlegging. A huge chunk of the informal economy is salvaging materials that are easy to find. The informal economy leads to low-income security, which puts strain on people to find housing. The lack of regular housing options results in informal housing. The informal housing is what is describes as shantytowns or essentially hubs of homeless populations where they set up temporary camps. This unregulated and insecure areas of temporary housing don’t pay city taxes and receive no city services. Because there isn’t anything beneficial to the city, police and emergency services don’t patrol or attend these areas. These camps are located on land with no value, usually steep hill-slopes, industrial areas, river valleys, etc. They’re constructed with available materials and aren’t built to code since they are unregulated. They receive no sewage or water access because they are unregulated.
    You don’t often find homeless camps in the Middle East, but refugee camps. These camps are more permanent because they are built with stronger materials, such as stone or stucco. They are able to build with more permanent materials because they are located on the outskirts of towns where the city officials don’t mind the camps. These camps grow much bigger in size as compared to homeless camps in the United States. They eventually become their own villages where people add to their homes as they need it and are given free reign to build.
    This is not the case for homeless camps in the United States. They are seen as a blight on the modern city and want to be out of the public’s eye as much as possible. We need to work with these communities to provide services to them and places where they can stay, so that hopefully they can rejoin the working world and contribute towards a productive society.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s