I thought I’d swing by the supermarket in my neighborhood Tuesday morning to see if I could find a woman who lives in a van that’s often anchored in the store’s parking lot.
Last time I saw her, I asked how she was.
“All I have is Social Security,” she said, “and there’s no way I can afford a place on that alone.”
Yeah, I’ve heard that a few times.
She wasn’t at the store, so I tried the senior center she visits on Riverside Drive, near Los Feliz Boulevard. No sign of her.
But a woman named Ann drove up in a van she sleeps in when friends or relatives don’t have space for her.
Then a guy named Frank motored in, parked the Dodge van he’d slept in the night before, and started frying eggs on his camper stove.
While I was talking to Frank, Keith pedaled in on his bike and said he’d pitched a tent on skid row the night before.
And on and on it goes.
This is my neighborhood, home of the homeless, like so many other Los Angeles County neighborhoods.
The numbers are up again, as they have been every year since 2013. In the latest tally, 47,000 people don’t have homes. About 28,000 of them are in the city of Los Angeles, an 11% increase over last year.
Why the rise?
Low wages. Ridiculous housing prices. Untreated mental illness. All the usual stuff.
So what do we do?
I don’t have all the answers, but I’ve got five thoughts to share.