Los Angeles Called Meanest City

From Reuters:

Tue Jul 14, 2009 10:51pm EDT

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By Steve Gorman

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Two major advocacy groups for the homeless on Tuesday ranked Los Angeles as the "meanest" city in the United States, citing a Skid Row police crackdown they say has criminalized poverty and homelessness there.

L.A.'s so-called Safer City Initiative was singled out in the groups' report as the most egregious example of policies and practices nationwide that essentially punish people for failing to have a roof over their heads.

Others include making it illegal to sleep, sit or store personal belongings on sidewalks and other public spaces; prohibitions against panhandling or begging; and selective enforcement of petty offenses like jaywalking and loitering.

Such measures are widespread in the face of a deep economic recession and foreclosure crisis that have increased homelessness over the past two years, according to the National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty and the National Coalition for the Homeless.

Their report examined laws and practices in 273 cities across the country, with Los Angeles topping the list of the 10 "meanest cities" for what the study called inhumane treatment of homeless. A previous report, issued in early 2006 before the crackdown began, ranked L.A. as the 18th meanest.

Under the Safer City effort, thousands of L.A.'s most destitute residents have been targeted for harsh police enforcement, routinely receiving tickets for minor infractions such as the failure to obey crossing signals.

As a result, the study says, many are jailed and end up with a criminal record that makes it more difficult for them to find a job or gain access to housing.

A spokesman for Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa issued a statement dismissing the report as "short-sighted and misleading."

Los Angeles officials have touted their Safer City effort for sharply curbing serious crime in Skid Row, a 50-block downtown area inhabited by the biggest concentration of homeless people in the country. "The city's first priority is to protect our most vulnerable residents from violent crime," the mayor's statement said.

But homeless advocates say a promised strategy to ease homelessness there, including new housing and services to go with the Skid Row cleanup, have largely failed to materialize.

An estimated 40,000 people live on the streets, in abandoned buildings or in temporary shelters throughout Los Angeles, more than 5,000 of them in Skid Row. Another 8,000 make their home in that area's short-term residential hotels, or flop houses as they were once called.

Becky Dennison, co-director of the Los Angeles Community Action Network, said the homeless population in Los Angeles has ballooned due to a lack of affordable housing, a high poverty rate and "long-standing lack of local resources."

Tuesday's report cited a 2007 University of California study that found L.A. was spending $6 million a year to pay for the 50 extra police officers who patrol Skid Row while budgeting just $5.7 million for homeless services.

By comparison, Dennison said, New York City has a "right to shelter" policy and invests about $200 million a year in housing and other services for the needy, resulting in a homeless population half that of Los Angeles.


Anonymous said...

Bullshit. People in L.A. who choose to live outdoors go where they and and do what they want. That report is nonsense.

Anonymous said...

I just love people like commenter #1.

Republican, desensitized, narrow-minded people in denial.

Wonder if people like this are the same ones who say there was never really a Holaoaust and that Michael Jackson died because he was hooked on drugs, rather than murdered by the media---the same kind of people who lied and cheated him out of the enormous compassion and purity of love he had for the weak, sick, poor and dying---twisted every act of gentleness, humanitarianism, and philanthropy--the same people who ultimately chased down princess Diana, trying to make dirt out of her and ultimately killed her---killed these angels of human beings, pushing them to the very edge, into poverty of the human spirit, denying their very existance--making them into machines of productivity and lust for the gawky-eyed voyeur, until they are utterly destroyed and them. People with the attitude of #1 hate themselves. That's why they have to hate the poorest of the poor, be it homeless animals or human beings. These are the same type of people who turned their back on Jews during the Holocaust, Armenians during the genocidal acts of evil self-righteousness, and all other deplorable and psychotic genocidal acts.

Amanda said...

first off let me say i was homeless for a year at age 16. my story began when living situations at home went really bad. eventhough i lived on the streets i went to school everyday(walking about 3 miles each way), i ate peanut butter and jelly sandwiches only two a day, ive slept:behind a church, behind a bush, abandoned houses when it rained, in a baseball field basically anywhere i could rest my head without the cops finding me to wake me up. i went through homeless discrimination from the cops. i never gave up trying to make my life better, never did drugs, never used my body for money.NEVER!
my hard work paid off and now im in college living in a dorm and on a meal plan. i also work on campus, with a reasonable income. HOMELESS PEOPLE SHOULD NOT BE JUDGED FOR ANY REASON! WE ARE NOT ANIMALS, WE ARE HUMAN SO TREAT US AS ONE.