Homelessness is a growing issue in Los Angeles that requires a merciful response from everyone, at the level of policy decisions but also at the level of personal interaction. City officials estimate that there are nearly 59,000 people experiencing homelessness. This dramatic rise in homelessness reflects a growing national crisis. In the US, there are an estimated 473,000 homeless men, women and children. The growing inequality in today’s economy is seen no more dramatically than in our unhoused brothers and sisters.
Many misconceptions surround homelessness and people who are experiencing homelessness. Some people assume that all who are homeless suffer from addiction or mental illness. . The reality is that, while many are struggling with these issues, there are many families, elderly people, pregnant women, and youth forced into homelessness due to personal setbacks they experience with no safety nets. Many individuals and families are just one paycheck away from being forced to leave their homes and stay instead with friends or family, or in their cars. .
In 2016, voters approved Proposition HHH which delegated more funds for Supportive Housing and other homeless-prevention programs. Supportive Housing combines affordable housing with resources like mental health counseling to help keep people off the streets.
While there are steps being taken by city and county government to build more affordable housing and offer more services to the homeless, creating a society where everyone has a home won’t happen without YOUR support.
OneLife LA encourages you to support our Community Partners working to end homelessness, or to shift the way that you view those experiencing homelessness. Our challenge to you this week is to stop and greet the people you pass on the streets — try to treat them with respect by acknowledging them. Remember that the “stereotypes” attached to those experiencing homelessness are not always true and that they are all worthy of human dignity.