Skid Row

When I was looking at losing my job due to the State of California eliminating all urban redevelopment to pay their obligation for funding schools, I became more sensitive to the plight of the homeless.  Suddenly I was about to lose my job due to politics in Sacramento that was beyond my control.  I still had a mortgage to pay and felt very vulnerable and drawn to others in vulnerable situations.  The Community Development Commission is an agency responsible for affordable housing in the County and a range of other public services including redevelopment and economic development programs in low income unincorporated areas of the County.  This is public service and I buy into the idea of helping others less fortunate by providing services to the needy.

When I felt more vulnerable myself, it drew me to spend more time getting to know those in Skid Row.  I found homelessness is complex.  There are a greater number of people from the central United States, Arkansas, Missouri, Oklahoma, Mississippi, etc. than the general population, there are more veterans dealing with PTSD, and others that are on the margins of financial success.  I found people who had gone through some tragic event like the loss of a loved one to cancer who were traumatized by the experience, started using alcohol or drugs, and couldn’t find their way out.  I met a young couple with a newborn who came to Los Angeles on the promise of a job, found the job wasn’t there and simply didn’t have the resources to return home or find housing and food in Los Angeles.  And there were whole facilities dedicated to women who we getting away from abusive relationships.  The homeless aren’t The Other, they can be people like you or me you may not be strong enough to get out of their current situation.  I was able to stay at the Union Rescue Mission for four days and had a former guest as a guide for many other trips into Skid Row where I listened to the stories of residents and those passing through.  The result is the book and slide show, Sea of Souls.