The Spark

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.” — Karl Marx

Los Angeles:
Homelessness in a Very Rich County

Sep 28, 2015

About 13,000 people fall into homelessness every month in Los Angeles County, according to a new report by the Economic Roundtable, a nonprofit research group in Los Angeles. Some of these people may later find a job or a relative who can take them off the streets. But around 40 percent of them are chronically homeless.

Once people find themselves on the streets, recovering from such dire conditions is difficult. Roughly half the number of people who fall into homelessness do not receive health and behavioral health services, case management, disability benefits and subsidized housing. Many people are thrown onto the streets because of soaring rents, low wages and high unemployment. The Great Recession, which started in 2007, further deepened the homelessness.

“We have single mothers with limited job skills, who couldn’t pay their rent, who were evicted. Most of the people we work with are born into poverty,” according to Rabbi Marvin Gross, who leads Union Station Homeless Services in Los Angeles.

The city of Los Angeles should have had sufficient funds to provide relief to the homeless people. Instead, the city slashed its affordable housing fund from 108 million dollars in 2008 to 26 million dollars in 2014. But city officials are busy finding ways to increase tax cuts to the businesses.

Los Angeles has one of the highest homelessness rates in the U.S. At the same time, Los Angeles is among the richest U.S. cities. In this city, the rich drive very expensive cars on the same streets the homeless wander around. Rich neighborhoods like Beverly Hills are located next to these poverty stricken streets. Lush houses in such neighborhoods have many rooms, most of them unoccupied. These are the two starkly different human faces of the same city: one is that of the filthy rich and the other that of the extremely poor, both results of the same system.