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Skid Row and a Safer City

August 23rd, 2009 by Jessika

“Six million spent for fifty additional cops on Skid Row … but only $5.7 million spent for homeless services CITYWIDE.” A poster emblazoned with those words stood against a wall in the Los Angeles Community Action Network’s office. Pete White founded the Los Angeles Community Action Network in 2004 to fight for the rights of Los Angeles’ poorest residents: the thousands of men and women who call Skid Row home.

Skid Row welcomed, against its will, another population in late 2006. The Safer City initiative, launched by LA Police Chief William Bratton, sought to clean up Skid Row by increasing the police force on its streets.
“Let’s arrest everything that moves,” said Anat Rubin of the LAPD’s strategy. Rubin works for LAMP, a permanent housing facility in Skid Row, and she has seen first-hand what the Safer City initiative has done to the area. According to Rubin, the cops arrested over 1500 people in the first four months of the initiative, and the majority of those arrests were on exaggerated or petty charges.

Before working for LAMP, Rubin worked as a reporter for the Los Angeles Daily Journal where she covered Skid Row. She said that she felt safer before the initiative started.

Most importantly, the Safer City initiative has not attempted to really solve the issue of homelessness. The Skid Row Housing Trust does, however, by providing permanent housing in a supportive environment. But this organization does not have the resources to build enough supportive housing to meet the needs of LA’s homeless population.

What is the solution then if the city’s strategy only cosmetically relieves the issue, and the strategy that works to permanently end it does not have the funding to meet up with the demand?

Until more funding finds its way to organizations like the Skid Row Housing Trust and LAMP, the cycle of homelessness for the city’s poorest will continue, leaving the issue unresolved.

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