Formed last year, the Pacific Palisades task force underscores the growing focus on homelessness in Los Angeles, as outdoor encampments spread from downtown’s Skid Row area into residential neighborhoods, creating a political crisis in the U.S.’s second-most-populous city after New York.
“We are not just talking about increases in places that previously had large encampments,” said Pete White, founder of the Community Action Network, which advocates for more affordable housing in Los Angeles. “We are starting to see encampments all over the city.”
The national homeless population declined 2% in 2015 over the prior year, according to federal data released this month, with the number living outdoors down 1%. But in Los Angeles County, which includes the city and other growing cities such as Long Beach, Burbank and Pasadena, the homeless population has increased 20% over the past year to about 41,000, with a 28% increase in the number of people living outdoors.
Here’s the trouble: drunks and junkies don’t want to work, and don’t want to live in shelters, and who can blame them? A job would require sobriety and a fixed schedule and people telling them what to do. As for shelters, listen to Bobby Foster, who lives on the beach in surfer land:
Mr. Foster, a [claimed] Army veteran who has been living in the park for nearly seven years, was drawn to the area by the beach and generosity of its people. Police evicted him from his usual spot in the grove and seized his food and belongings but he planned on moving back, he said. He wasn’t interested in the city’s $100 million homeless initiative, he added, explaining that he enjoyed living outdoors.
“They want to put us in a homeless shelter with basically 24 people,” Mr. Foster said. “I don’t want to live in that environment. I have been there before. It is like a damn prison cell.”
Again, who can blame him, but there’s no point trying to help him. We all make choices in life.