A tale of two cities—a far cry from the best of times for Los Angeles County’s 60,000 homeless

Feb 13, 2018

The heart of Skid Row in the heart of Los Angeles
Credit Thomas Wilmer

Skid Row in Los Angeles is home to more than 2,000 homeless who sleep on the streets, in doorways, alleys, under bridges, and on streetcars. Skid Row is just a slice of a larger population of homeless in Los Angeles County with a total homeless population of around 60,000. And this does not include the cities of Glendale, Pasadena, and Long Beach—three of the County’s larger towns.

More than 30 percent of the homeless population is mentally ill, not to mention the drug addicted and alcoholics. Los Angeles County witnessed a 20 percent increase in homelessness in the past year.

From January 2016 to January 2017, the homeless count rose from an estimated 46,000 to 60,000.

And a dominant driver has been the skyrocketing rents in LA County that averaged a 20 percent increase in rental costs over the past two years alone.

LA's Skid Row skirts strikingly close some of the most expensive real estate in America.
Credit Thomas Wilmer

The new growth industry in homelessness is not necessarily drugs and alcohol but people being evicted from their homes due to an inability to pay exorbitant rents. 

There are approximately 1,270 mission and 24-hour shelter beds in the Skid Row area, but there are often more than 2,400 homeless camped out in the greater Skid Row neighborhood.

Among the numerous agencies caring for LA County’s homeless is the Society of Saint Vincent de Paul.

Correspondent Tom Wilmer visits with Lawrence Hurst, Director of Social Services, and Njambi Kingori, Deputy Director of Social Services at the Society of Saint Vincent de Paul’s Cardinal Manning Center, located in the heart of Skid Row.

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