“In downtown L.A., however, as many as 54 blocks — between Third Street and Seventh Street, from Alameda to Main — are almost entirely given over to the homeless, the limbless, the drug-addicted and the mentally ill. Battered tents line the boulevards. Mountains of garbage block the sidewalks. The air smells like urine, feces and burning crack. And everywhere there are people — dazed, disheveled, disabled; stretched out on lawn chairs or sprawled on the pavement; some scoring heroin from marked tents, others injecting it between their toes in plain sight, mere blocks from some of the hippest new bars and restaurants in town.”
On Monday, a cell phone video released showing police in Los Angeles shooting a homeless man to death. He was mentally ill, living in Skid Row for years and, according to police, grabbing for an officer’s gun. You can find coverage here. Yahoo’s article starts with the above description. It continues to say this:
“The more difficult questions, perhaps, are the ones that fewer Americans will ask. Why was a troubled man who reportedly spent 10 years in a mental facility living in squalor on the streets of the nation’s last dedicated homeless district? Why was he surrounded by as many as 6,000 men, women and children in similarly dire straits — 2,000 of whom sleep on the sidewalks? How can a place like this still exist? And what can be done about it?”
The city of Los Angeles started a Housing for Health program, a push for supportive housing to get people off the streets as a first-level solution. The first Community Partner of P356, We Agape You, is also focused on a housing initiative for the city of Reading. The answer, as simple and clear as it can be, is to acquire stable rooms and put people in them. Do this and you take a large step against the ills of poverty.
As we read this post in our homes, the world of Skid Row seems far away. The poor are “out there” and we are “in here.” As believers, we like to compartmentalize our missions to the missionaries. You want me to give something extra? Sure, I’ll throw some money into the bucket, maybe collect some cans and drop them off at church. As long as we don’t have to get dirty.
We follow a Savior calling us to get dirty.
We follow a Savior who lived his years on the fringes. He ate dinner with those outside of society and angered the religious leaders of the time. He went to those in need. He wants us to do the same.
This is why poverty matters:
These people are all our families. These kids sleeping on the sidewalk are our children. Their struggles are our own and we cannot ignore it.
This fight is one I’m capturing in my current book project. Please consider joining with P356 to help the words make a difference. The moment the story moves from the news into your heart is one that you will never forget. It will change your life and drive you to change the lives of others.
You will make a difference.