Policemen Confronting Homeless People
Mr. Squigglekins and I were driving to our favorite artisanal coffee shop, House Roots Coffee when we saw police officers confronting and asking homeless people to move their belongings. I felt terrible because it represented an example of stigma towards homelessness and also a band-aid when dealing with them. After Mr. Squigglekins and I came back from our coffee trip, we saw that they were gone.
Zocolo Public Talk
Last year, Mr. Squigglekins and I attended a Zocolo Public Talk titled: Homelessness is Not Inevitable, which was a panel moderated by Steve Lopez, a columnist for the L.A. Times and author of the best-selling book and adapted film, The Soloist.
Here were the experts:
- L.A. County Housing for Health director Marc Trotz
- UCLA psychiatrist Kenneth Wells
- Ocean Park Community Center Executive Director John Mauceri
- Christine Margiotta, a UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs alumna and vice president of community impact at United Way of Greater Los Angeles.
We Have a Long, A Very Long Way to Go
The experts agreed there still is a long way to combat homelessness even though there is progress. Although Los Angeles has made a significant push to increase affordable housing, the homeless population outpaces the resources provided. Obstacles include sky rocking home costs aka gentrification, not enough state and federal funding, disorganized outreach, and the social stigma attached to homelessness.
Whole Community Involvement
Wells expressed that in for real change to happen, entire communities need to get involved. These communities include “parks, barber shops, and clinics.” He also adds that it’s the frontline worker who knows how to engage with a person with special needs and take the small step before they fall into homelessness.
Other solutions include continuing to provide more affordable housing. Mauceri conveyed that housing should not be a “reward” for good behavior, but should at the onset for lifting people up from homelessness.
The necessary foundation for solving homelessness is the human connection–meaning talking to people about their plight and acknowledging their existence. Many derelict and destitute people are invisible and ignored.
Homelessness is a Social Justice Issue of Mine
Homelessness is a social justice passion of mine. I often post on social media about homeless problems, donate money to organizations that have holistic approaches to dealing with homelessness such as L.A. on Cloud Nine, and volunteer with the same organization when time avails me.
Homelessness is a chronic problem everywhere in the United States that results from addiction, mental illness, job loss, medical costs, rising house costs, and much more.
I support homelessness causes because I know I’d be in their place if it were for my parents financially helping me. Looking at photographers’ Instagram accounts who take pictures of the down-and-out makes me grateful to have my own basic needs met and much more. Furthermore, reading other people’s stories on homelessness reminds me that it’s a multidimensional problem that needs a variety of solutions depending on the context.
Photo By By Eric Pouhier (own work by Eric Pouhier) [CC BY-SA 2.5 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.5)], via Wikimedia Commons.
(Los Angeles Based)