If You Are Another City, Hospital, or State Dumping Your Homeless Into Skid Row, If You Say You Care About The Homeless.... STOP!

Where do I even begin? Over the past two years I have seen a demographic shift in the Row. True most homeless in Skid Row are from LA County, but I am now seeing new faces and names I don’t know. I see this pattern when they arrive; Upon first arrival, many of them gravitate towards our police station. They sit on the steps to think of their next move in safety. The next day, they find the courage to walk eastbound to shelters. A few hours later, they are back at our station with the look of fear on their face, or the confirmation of the what they feared on their face in the form of a swollen lip or black eye.

I see them when my wife drops me off at work, I approach the steps and greet them. Seeing a muscle bound man with a tote bag causes them to bow their heads, as if I was the goon who broke them the day before. I tell them to stay there and that when I return, I’d have resources for them. They say nothing. Not the typical response I get after 22 years of being like family to the homeless I serve. I sigh, go change into my superhero suit, and return to engage them with resources so they don’t get stuck, but they are gone.

Defeated, I get into my  patrol car to scan the area and I see more new faces. New women crawling out of tents, belonging to men who I know are shady, doing what they have to do to survive I guess. Then the straw that breaks my emotional back, an elderly woman sitting on the sidewalk, tells me she was given a ticket to come to LA because she was told she would be housed there, and that after one week, she was ready to go back to her home state. The state that misled her and threw her away.

To other cities, counties, and states, please hear me. If you actually care about the homeless, as many of your politicians say they do, you would never send them to skid row. Skid Row may be the West Coast Mecca of all things homeless, but in truth, it is no place for anyone to be homeless. Imagine your mother, sister, grandfather, brother, or son being abused over sidewalk space. Imagine them being sexually assaulted in tents. Fathom them being robbed for pennies, or beaten with anything an assailant can get their hands on, and believe me there are plenty of weapons out there. Imagine them catching Typhus, Staphylococcus, or Tuberculosis. Imagine them sharing a used needle and catching a bloodborne pathogen. It is inexcusable to send anyone there. Shame on you for doing so.

Stop throwing them to our wolves, and help them in your backyard!