Homelessness: Individual Intervention

The homelessness crisis has brought Los Angeles to its knees. From Hollywood to Santa Monica to the Downtown Arts District, it’s hard to ignore 59,000 displaced individuals roaming the city, ranking Los Angeles second for the rate of homelessness.

The misery and pain that comes from living under such dilapidated and depressing conditions seems unimaginable. But these problems are very much real, and they’re projected to grow.

This past year, Los Angeles saw a 12 percent increase in homelessness, despite new initiatives for housing placement, according to Los Angeles Homeless Service Authority. The severity becomes more apparent when we look at the unsheltered homeless population. Recorded by the Los Angeles Almanac, 75 percent of the homeless live without shelter, which is close to 45,000 people.

In 2016, Mayor Eric Garcetti led proposition HHH to be passed and implemented, which brought in over 1.2 billion dollars to acquire land for homeless shelters, and in turn will create 10,000 permanent homes by 2026.

While the city ostensibly has made strides for meaningful progress, 10,000 homes only covers a fraction of the homeless community and disregards the emotional toll on a homeless individual.

Speaking to that, in her book “Stigma and Prejudice,” author Denise De Las Nueces writes, “Homeless individuals struggle every day under the weight of anti-homelessness stigma and oppression that render them seemingly invisible.” So moving away from state and city level intervention, we must ask ourselves what we are able to do on an individual level.

The Bowery Mission, an organization based in New York, encourages people to engage and acknowledge homeless individuals. Self-worth begins to quickly corrode when faced with constant isolation.

Whether it’s a short conversation or a simple nod, gesturing alone might help to heal the devastation of unremitting loneliness. It is incumbent on us to rebuild the self-esteem of homeless individuals through engagement and face this crisis head on.

To offer more direct help, Mayor Eric Garcetti created a VolunteerLA portal, which allows anyone to provide service in different areas of homelessness. Serving hot meals, tutoring homeless students or simply being a person to talk to are among the many ways to be a part of homelessness remediation. We must be active in our Los Angeles community, whether it is for 365 days or merely 1 day out of the year.

Moreover, Los Angeles Mission, a nonprofit, describes the value in donations in their mission statement. While money provides means to keep services afloat, clothing and food give individuals comfort and sustenance. Especially as we edge closer to winter, donations of warm clothing will help the greater homeless population endure a cold season, rather than offering pocket change. Winter is far more cruel without shelter.

It is in our hands to dismiss the stigma around the growing homeless population and remain informed on how we can continue to fix the problem in Los Angeles. Mayor Eric Garcetti has long term housing solutions, but our community needs to act summarily.

This is not a call for awareness; this is a call for action. It is time to put the onus on ourselves, roll up our sleeves and fight for a bleeding demographic.

Jack Newman

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