Charities in Los Angeles that feed the homeless face being forced out of the view of the public under new regulations proposed by Democratic city council members.
LA, which has the second highest level of homeless people in America after New York City, has seen a sharp rise in the number of people sleeping on the streets since the onset of the Great Recession following the economic crash of 2008. Last year alone saw a 27% increase in the number of people in LA without a home to call their own.
Charities like the Greater West Hollywood Food coalition have provided free meals to the homeless in the Hollywood area for nearly 30 years. But a recent upsurge in complaints from local residents relating to petty crime and anti-social behavior has moved two city council members (both Democrats) to propose that LA follow dozens of other cities which have passed laws requiring the feeding of the homeless to take place out of the view of the general public.
Jerry Jones, the director of the Coalition for the Homeless, said that the aim here was not to address homelessness, but to simply make an unpleasant problem disappear:
“It’s a common but misguided tactic to drive homeless people out of downtown areas. This is an attempt to make difficult problems disappear. It’s both callous and ineffective.”
Ted Landreth, the founder of the Greater West Hollywood Food coalition, said this was the second time his organization had been forced to move by a court order following a ruling in 1999. Landreth believes that as areas of the city are becoming gentrified, a form of social displacement is taking place, with increasingly affluent areas wanting to distance themselves from the realities of poverty and homelessness in America. He said his group fought back against the 1999 ruling, and would fight back this time:
“The people who want to get rid of us see dollar signs, property values, ahead of pretty much everything else. We have stood our ground. We are not breaking any law.”
The United States has a chronic problem of homelessness — a problem exacerbated by the shameful level of repossessions that took place following the economic crash of 2008. However in Los Angeles the level of aid spent on the homeless has actually been cut according to Mike Arnold, the director of the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority. These proposals are nothing more than a crude attempt to move an unpopular and unpleasant problem out of the view of the public, instead of tackling the issue head-on by increasing aid and help to the millions of Americans living in severe poverty and sleeping on the streets.
Read the full New York Times story here.