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Inside LA’s Homelessness Epidemic | This New World

December 18, 2019

– Everywhere you go in Los Angeles, you see poor people everywhere, Skid Row, Downtown,
everywhere, they’re everywhere and look, they sleep in the elevators and yeah, you can’t live outside, people are not meant to live outside. – I really think that people down here are just like you and us, I
mean, they’re a paycheck away, we’re all a paycheck
away from being homeless. – It used to be confined to certain areas, but now pretty much
anywhere in the city you go, you’ll see someone experiencing
literal homelessness. – Because all the lost moving
in and the different crowds, so we don’t have a choice. (light melodic music) (light haunting music) – Every time I see the Dow Jones tick up another 1000 points,
I know that all these people on the bottom rung are gonna drop off. – [Narrator] There are more
homeless people in America today, than the populations
of Orlando and Reno combined and that doesn’t include people forced to live with friends or relatives, that number could be
closer to 7.4 million. But the American economy is showing signs it’s bounced back from the 2008 recession, the GDP is up, unemployment
is down and homes are selling, yet despite all that progress, the gap in income and
equality keeps widening. Since 1980, the world’s
richest 1% have taken larger and larger shares
of the world’s income, while the bottom half has taken smaller and smaller slices of the pie, this pattern is pushing
more and more people to the financial brink, estimates show that 150 million people worldwide may be homeless, another 1.6 billion don’t
have adequate housing. So what got us here? For one, housing prices have skyrocketed, while ordinary people’s incomes stagnate. To afford an average
rate apartment in the US, a person must earn at least 16.35 an hour, that’s more than double
the federal minimum wage. There’s no magic bullet,
but innovative solutions are being tested around the world, the most promising are designed to tackle homelessness from all angles, housing, substance abuse,
health and social isolation. There’s the Housing First Movement, that means putting a
roof over people’s heads, then tackling issues like mental illness and addiction with support services, it’s worked for Finland and Denmark, while homelessness rises across Europe, it’s declining in those countries. These new ideas are promising
and as global wealth grows, new solutions and ideas are arising to tackle the complexity of homelessness, however if applying these solutions aren’t made a priority on a global scale, then the millions of
those who are homeless may likely continue to grow. (light haunting music) – Homelessness hasn’t always
been a crisis in America, it really became a
crisis in the early ’80s with drastic cuts, that were launched by the Reagan administration
to the safety net, that this country had had at the time. Inequality is growing and there
are people on the lower end, on the losing end of
that growing inequality. – And then the slide, yes,
one, two or three bad things, an employer that hits a bump and has to lay people off temporarily, so you can very quickly
find yourself unemployed and then without housing and then in a car with your kids and there you go. – People experiencing
severe mental illness, people who are deep into addictions, those are people that a lot of times are stereotyped as the typical person experiencing homelessness
and that’s just not the case and it’s just the most visible
person that you remember, like you always remember the
person screaming on the corner, you don’t really see two
people waiting at the bus stop, who are homeless and at the same level that that other person is. – I think for the substance use thing, it is kind of like the
chicken and the egg, sometimes which came first
is really hard to determine. So the county plans to
displace over 1000 people from the Santa Ana riverbed and currently offers no
more than half a dozen beds, that are actually available
for people down here, there is no option,
there is no alternative. – I actually like ran away from
originally a children’s home and I just found a place,
where I could seek refuge and I ended up staying
in Tent City in Anaheim. It might seem kind of trashy here, but it really is trashy actually, but you know, a lot of
it is actually set up, life is how you make it. – I came out here in 2016, January. I had an apartment with my
daughter and my husband, I was doing project management
at Kinney Construction, so, it was a good job
and then he lost his job and slowly after that, I lost my job, so I gave our daughter to my friend and we moved out here. I built it from here
all the way to the end to where the playground is at, this is all us, this is my
family, that moved out here. You know, everyone
deserves to live somewhere and with other people, you know, we shouldn’t have to be
finding a parking lot corner in the dark and going
to sleep for the night and then be woken up by the police. There’s a lot of intelligent
people on this trail, like they’re not just
drug addicts and you know, criminals or whatever they
say about us in the paper. – There’s a lot of questions in there that are really super sensitive questions, the most sensitive questions
to me in the survey is the questions about whether they’ve experienced sexual abuse, there’s a good amount
of questions like that and I just remind them, I
didn’t make up these questions, I’m just doing my best
to get through the survey and there’s a lot of questions specific to how long
they’ve been homeless, how they’re spending their nights, whether it’s in a tent or a makeshift shelter like
cardboard or things like that, so it’s really important every year to get some idea on
how many are out there. – There are solutions, but it’s a question of prioritizing this as a problem, an urgent problem that
deserves our attention and deserves government
attention at whatever level, housing first and then address the other, any other needs after that. The problem in LA is certainly not unique, homelessness is a crisis
across the country and what you saw in LA is
just one example of that, LA has very high housing costs and that really is what is
driving homelessness there, but that’s true of many other cities and the cost of living has not caught up with the cost of housing and
that’s driving homelessness and it’s an national crisis
that’s not being addressed. Communities can still
take action on their own, instead of sending police out to sweep people away, for example, they can take those funds, that they’re using to fund
the police to do that, put those funds into housing, it actually costs less to fund housing, than it costs to send police out, to engage the court system, to use a criminal justice
approach to homelessness, is more costly than to
actually solve the problem by creating additional housing
opportunities for people. (light haunting music)

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