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Homeless in California

Poverty Tar Pitts

This not to place guilt on anyone. This is about dealing with all the hidden factors that provide a strong foundation for homelessness. This is about dispelling the lies that make it hard for homeless people to be helped. We all deserve to live decent lives. No person who loses their job and faces the challenges of life that lead them to homelessness should be accused of being lazy. Depressed, yes, hurt, lost, and even broken yes, but lazy, no. Try standing in a line waiting for food after walking all day. Imagine having to walk most of the places you need just for food and clean clothing for a job interview. Most of us can’t. Then imagine doing it with your family following you. Imagine the single mother who lost her husband to crime, who has to take care of her child and work. Imagine the man or woman from the military who fought for our country and is dealing with PTSD or crippled in combat and cannot work.

California carries 20 percent of the homeless population in the United States (, 2014).

Every day I walk down 4th street on my way to work, past the businesses and speeding traffic filled with people trying to go somewhere. As I cross Central Avenue getting closer to my destination, the stench of urine burns my nose. A little further past Central Avenue to my right down one of the many industrial streets, a group of five tents close together.

A little further pass the wholesale smoke shops on the right side of 4th street are sleeping homeless men and women and children. Some sleep-in tents some wrapped in blankets and some just lay on the dirty sidewalks in their worn and tattered clothes. Not even 5 feet away a man stands at the bus stop waiting for the bus to come so he can go to work. I cross San Pedro close to my job and make a right down a one-way street. I am greeted with more tents on my left and my right and people taking their morning walk around the city block. Here homelessness is common. Where is here? Here is the section of Los Angeles that has the popular name ‘Skid Row.’

According to, “Homelessness is, in fact, caused by tragic life occurrences…”

Major factors that are responsible for homelessness are loss of loved ones where that loved one was the primary bread winner or the shared income kept that family out of homelessness. The loss of a job is also one of the most prominent causes of homelessness. Along with loss of a job is domestic violence, divorce, and issues within a family that can lead individual to be homeless. Those are just a few of the reasons why people are homeless which also include mental disorders such as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and physical disabilities as well. A lot of the victims of homelessness are families and children.

According to (2014), “Nearly one-quarter of all homeless people were children under the age of 18 (23 percent or 135,701). Ten percent (or 58,601) were between the ages of 18 and 24, and 66 percent (or 384,122) were 25 years or older.”

Most people are living at or below the poverty line. No, that doesn’t mean you are homeless, it just means that if the right incident happens you and your family can be on the street. The question is, “How can I help? What can I do?" Anything else is a waste of time.

When we start a dialogue on homelessness we often encounter numerous prejudices. When we talk about the homeless situation we encounter a lot of anger that is directed towards those who are homeless and those who talk about homelessness. When homelessness is brought up, we rarely talk about the social issues that are foundational to the homeless epidemic. Racism and sexism and classism are not the topics that we deal with openly, they are the elephants in the room. Racism, sexism and classism, along with greed, mold the minds of those who advocate against and who advocate for the homeless person.


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Homeless in California
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