Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Sunday Globe Special: Skid Row Growing

In the midst of what we are told is a pretty good economic recovery, at least as compared to the rest of the world. Imagine what things would be like in a horrible economy.

"Homelessness spikes in LA" by Adam Nagourney New York Times   June 13, 2015

LOS ANGELES — Construction cranes dot the sky from Century City to the Sunset Strip. Once-downtrodden blocks downtown and in Venice are bustling with restaurants, coffee shops, sparkling new condominiums, theaters, and office construction.

The unemployment rate has dropped to almost half its double-digit high of five years ago. Much of Los Angeles these days seems the portrait of prosperity.

But a sweeping census of the homeless population in Los Angeles County released last month came as a jolting rebuke to the charities and officials who have proclaimed a mission to end the region’s stubborn problem of people living on the streets.

Their numbers spiked 12 percent in two years, cementing Los Angeles’s reputation of having the most intractable homeless problem in the nation.


It is a place of stark class contrasts, on display every day with a staggering number of people living around the clock on the streets, without the extensive network of temporary overnight shelters provided in cities like New York City. 

Or Boston.

The report, by the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority, has set off a wave of concern and frustration among officials here and raised questions about the widespread gentrification that has transformed parts of Los Angeles.

I don't que$tion it at all. It's a richer's world now. The rest of us are just bums -- literally.

The urban transformation, while bringing new life and prosperity to formerly bleak streets, has helped fuel some of the highest housing costs in the country, while removing inexpensive rentals from the market.

Same thing happening in Bo$ton, but it's all good and a sign of a strong housing market. That's what I've been told.

“It’s all being gentrified,” Alice Callaghan, an advocate for the homeless, said as she walked past people hidden under pieces of cardboard on Skid Row, an area in downtown Los Angeles. A few blocks away are stores like Big Man Bakes, with its promise of “fresh, moist, fantastic cupcakes” on a once bedraggled block of Main Street. 

Probably better than Pine Street Inn cookies.

“Where are these poor families going to go?” asked Callaghan, who has worked on Skid Row for 34 years. “It can’t be a surprise to anyone at City Hall that these numbers are increasing. It’s not drugs that are putting these people out on the streets — it’s the housing. Sidewalks in this city are the de facto housing.”

I'm starting to think maybe all the homeless should be rounded up and exterminated. That would solve the problem. I suppose police shootings are a start. 

I mean, really, when you look at AmeriKa now and think through the way she solves her problems, the solution always seems to be kill it. Seems to solve everything.

The homeless census, based on a three-day survey by 5,500 volunteers in January, put the official homeless population for Los Angeles County, which includes the city of Los Angeles, at 44,359. The report confirms what is anecdotally obvious: People are sleeping on sidewalks up and down Sunset Boulevard, living in cars in South Los Angeles, and huddling in the kind of tent cities once confined to Skid Row, which the report found had grown substantially.


New York City has a larger homeless population, but most of its homeless people live in shelters, not outdoors. “The sheer number of people living on the streets and out of doors makes LA the homeless capital of the nation,” said Jerry Jones, executive director of the National Coalition for the Homeless.

You're number one, L.A.

That distinction, to a considerable extent, is due to a temperate climate that has long been a great draw of Southern California, for those with or without homes. Unlike in New York City, there is relatively little risk of dying from exposure here for people who make the streets their home. And from a municipal perspective, it takes some of the pressure off governments to act.

That's good, and the global warming can only help.

“I mostly came for the weather,” said Gloria Davis, 57, who said she was facing eviction and a return to the streets from her latest low-cost apartment just off Skid Row. She smiled up at the warm afternoon sun. “Give me this weather all year round,” she said. “You can’t find this in New York. You can’t find this in Miami.”

Does she know where is Miami?

As in New York, various factors contribute to homelessness here, but the biggest one may be the huge gap between housing costs and income. The Los Angeles City Council voted recently to increase the minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2020, but that can go only so far.


That's why I haven't bothered covering the bread-crumb raises that keep the $tatus quo.

“People are out there mostly because they can’t afford a place to sleep,” Mayor Eric Garcetti said in an interview.

Print copy ends. 

So whatcha gonna do about it, mayor (now about that water)?

Robert A. McDonald, secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs, moved quickly after taking office last summer to steer more funds to help homeless veterans in Los Angeles.

Related: Philly VA Used Psychics For Diagnoses

Ending a long and bitter lawsuit between homeless advocates here and his department, he also entered an out-of-court settlement to build housing for veterans on a 387-acre campus in West Los Angeles, where many of the buildings had been rented to private corporations.

“You can’t solve — I can’t solve — veteran homelessness nationally unless we solve it in LA,” McDonald said in an interview. “Veterans are smart. If they are going to a place to be homeless, they are going to want to go to a place with nice weather like LA.”

Homeless veterans is even more of a scandal considering this "support-the-wars" government and pre$$.

(This moment of AmeriKan independence brought to you by the U.S. Army)

Hey, maybe those homeless vets are just being independent!

Asked if his goal of ending veteran homelessness this year was achievable, he responded: “I am not giving up. That is still my goal.”

You can't solve in a year what took decades to create. 

Well, you probably could but that would mean sacrifices from the war machine and those who profit from it.

Christine Margiotta, who runs Home for Good, a United Way homeless program, said organizations were struggling to keep pace with new people becoming homeless. “We have housed over 20,000 people over the past four years, and yet the numbers are up,” she said. “People are becoming homeless at a higher rate than we’ve seen in the past.”

This all in the midst of an alleged economic recovery.

Tensions have risen in recent weeks after two homeless men, one in Venice and another downtown, were shot and killed by the police as officers tried to arrest them.

Gee, that DID NOT RECEIVE as much agenda-pushing propaganda pre$$ treatment as did all the alleged racial incidents sowing division!

“The homeless population is being pushed around,” said Robert Cole, director of the Emmanuel Baptist Rescue Mission on Skid Row, where dozens of men stood eating breakfast before returning to the streets.

Peter Lynn, executive director of the Homeless Services Authority, noted the difficulty in counting the homeless, given the fluidity of the population. Still, he said, the trend is clear.

“We have an increase, and the magnitude of the increase is important,” Lynn said. “I don’t think that anybody was surprised, but everybody is disheartened.”

I know the feeling.


Let the culling begin:

"Jury convicts female LA officer of assault in deadly arrest" " Associated Press  June 06, 2015

LOS ANGELES — Jurors on Friday convicted a Los Angeles police officer of felony assault for repeatedly kicking a handcuffed woman who later died.

The jury reached its verdict after two days of deliberations in the trial of Officer Mary O’Callaghan, 50. She pleaded not guilty to assault under color of authority in the 2012 arrest of Alesia Thomas, 35.

Officers went to arrest Thomas at her home after she left her two children outside a police station.

A dashboard camera in a police cruiser captured O’Callaghan kicking the handcuffed Thomas in the back seat seven times in the groin, abdomen, and upper thigh, prosecutors said. Thomas lost consciousness and was pronounced dead at a hospital.

The 228-pound Thomas resisted arrest, according to a report by the Police Commission.

O’Callaghan’s attorney said she never had a complaint against her upheld during her 19 years on the force and had an exemplary record.

O’Callaghan was not charged in Thomas’s death. She has been relieved of duty without pay pending an administrative hearing.