Let’s Discuss: The Sidewalk Is What Some WeHo Residents Call Home

Johnny, a West Hollywood homeless man, who now has a more stylish haircut.

Not all West Hollywood’s residents live in expensive single-family homes or condos or apartments. Over the past few years there has been a small, but constantly growing number who live on our sidewalks.

Last year the estimate was 87, nearly double the 43 from the year before. The number of homeless people in WeHo from this year’s January count inexplicably won’t be released by the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority until July. But a walk down Santa Monica Boulevard suggests it has grown.

Getting those folks off the sidewalks and into housing isn’t an easy issue. One reason is that it’s a regional issue, and unlike Donald Trump’s vision for U.S. relations with Mexico, WeHo has no plans to build a wall on La Brea Avenue.

Perhaps no one knows the complexity of the issue better than Corri Planck, a city social services supervisor, who was asked earlier this year to coordinate city programs that assist the homeless and help get them off the streets. As Planck has explained, some are mentally ill, some are addicted to drugs, some for whatever reason just want to live on their own.

“Have you ever been camping?,” one homeless fellow asked when I stopped on the sidewalk to meet him. “This is like camping. All I need is a shower.”

There are, however, interesting efforts around the country to engage with the homeless that might merit consideration in WeHo. They don’t remove homeless people from the streets (L.A. County and the City of West Hollywood have programs to help with that). But they do provide services that can put smiles on the faces of homeless people and make it more likely for us to see them as neighbors rather than “transients,” which is the government jargon for “homeless.” That viewpoint is an essential first step if we are to get the homeless into homes.

homeless, santa monica boulevard, circus of books
Homeless person in front of Circus of Books on Santa Monica Boulevard. (Photo by Jon Viscott)

Below are a few efforts underway in other cities. WEHOville would like to hear your comments on these and your suggestions of other services that could give our homeless residents the help they need.


Homeless people aren’t inherently dirty, although their clothes might be. After all, they don’t have access to a washer or dryer or the money to use a laundromat. If you’ve ever had to put on an overused shirt or skirt or pair of pants because you’re behind on your laundry chores, you know how uncomfortable that can be.

Denver, according to the L.A. Times, “finds a simple and innovative way to help the homeless — wash their clothes.” The Denver laundry truck roams the city three times a week, providing washing, drying and folding services for homeless people.

“Walking around in dirty clothes only furthers your feelings of being an outcast,” said Marcus Harris, the laundry truck captain. “This is about basic human dignity.”


One big barrier between homeless people in WeHo and those of us who pass them on the sidewalks is how they look. The dirty hands and feet, the smudged faces — our aversion is a natural reaction.

So why not offer them showers? The Saban Clinic does at its locations on Beverly Boulevard and Hollywood Boulevard. But given their limited hours and distance, most of WeHo’s homeless residents don’t use them.

A better solution might be mobile showers, which are available in big cities across the country. In St. Louis, Mo., for example, a volunteer working with the homeless realized that giving them free soap and shampoo was meaningless if they didn’t have a place to use it. So Jake Austin created “Shower to the People,” a van that rolls throughout St. Louis, offering free showers to homeless people. The non-profit works with a plumbers union, a linen supplier, a truck company and a religious organization to provide its services.

In Los Angeles and San Francisco, there is Lava Mae, which offers similar services. Its shower bus makes eight stops during weekdays with one in Venice and others in downtown Los Angeles, including two on Skid Row. Doniece Sandoval launched the non-profit in San Francisco in 2013 by converting public transportation buses into showers and toilets on wheels. Should it be asked to expand to West Hollywood?


Another way to improve the self-esteem of the homeless (and the way we view them) is with a haircut. In many cities, individual hairdressers give haircuts to homeless people. That has happened in West Hollywood, where a woman who WEHOville hasn’t been able to identify was seen grooming a homeless man on a sidewalk recently.

This Spring, two hairdressers in Brisbane, Australia, took a small trailer and turned it into a mobile barber shop. Danielle Hannah and Teresa Reed got support from the Queensland government and local sponsors. Their goal is 1,000 free haircuts by the end of the year.

“It’s not just walking out with that bit of pride and dignity,” Hannah said in an interview with ABC in Australia, “but to feel like you belong again, you feel accepted.”

Homeless person on Santa Monica Boulevard. (Photo by Jon Viscott)


About six months ago on a Sunday morning, I stopped on the sidewalk on Santa Monica Boulevard for a chat with Johnny, one of WeHo’s less-than-transient homeless people. Johnny, pictured above, shared some crackers and cheese that a woman had dropped off — leftovers from a party the night before. But more important, he shared about himself and how he makes those artful signs proclaiming his homelessness. A few months later, I spotted Johnny sitting on the sidewalk at Robertson and Santa Monica boulevards, screaming loudly and alarming the people around him. I walked up and asked, with a smile: “Johnny, what the hell is going on?” Johnny stopped screaming, smiled back and said “hello.”

My brief interaction with Johnny didn’t take him off the street. But the fact that I always acknowledge him (and recently praised him for his new haircut) just may make him feel more like he’s one of us.

There are organizations in other cities that try to interact with homeless people and coach others on how to do it. The theory is that acknowledging their humanity will help a bit in the very complex effort to pull them into life.

Hope for New York, a non-profit that deals with homeless people, offers a lot of advice on how to engage with your homeless neighbors.

Among those tips:

— Don’t offer a homeless person money for food. Offer instead to buy him or her some food and share it. A brief conversation over a burger or hot dog satisfies the hunger but also tugs your homeless fellow diner back into the community a bit. If you don’t have time for that meal, consider carrying a piece of fruit or a granola bar that you can offer.

— Don’t engage with a homeless person of the opposite sex alone, and especially if he or she isn’t in a very public place.

— When a homeless person asks you for money, look him or her in the eye and introduce yourself with a smile. Offer a handshake, and if you have time stop for a brief conversation. You can buy a meal, or even offer to buy that person’s sign, if you find it as engaging as I might. And the next time you see that homeless WeHo resident, remember to say hello.

— Once you’ve gotten to know some of WeHo’s homeless residents, consider banding with a couple of friends and inviting them to a quick dinner somewhere. Astroburger, Fat Burger, McDonalds are places they’re likely to feel comfortable. Spend the meal asking them questions about their lives, not talking about yours. You’ll learn that they are human beings, and they will begin to feel accepted.

I’d suggest being cautious if a homeless person shows obvious signs of anger or violence such as screaming or cursing or making threatening gestures. If he or she really seems to pose a potential danger, call 911.

Please share your ideas in the comments below.

  1. Beverly Hills does a great job in having businesses display this sign in their windows (it reads): “Give me spare change and I may never get off these streets. Give to organizations that could really help me and you could save my life. It’s up to you” Under that is says, “NOT SPARE CHANGE” “Please give to a charity not a panhandler” http://www.beverlyhills.org/change. Cities like San Francisco and Portland that give no incentive for people with addictions to get help have only seen their city inundated with homeless with their numbers soaring and the situation getting worse by the year. I hope we don’t follow their examples.

  2. The homeless are people. Like all of us, be living in a state of intense personal distress. I want to keep my humanity and not further degrade those trapped in homeless poverty.

    HOWEVER, many of the homeless commit criminal acts against residents and people walking down the street.

    I think this is the same conundrum dealing with the homeless population across the country since it became a crisis.

    So I remain mixed. I’m never personally threatened, but I know many who are (not to be sexist, but women are targeted by the homeless more often)

    For once – I have no clue, idea or suggestion to the homeless problem. I do think if we all consider they are people … stear wide of potential threats, but be thankful we are not among the growing numbers of homeless.

  3. The Biblical admonition to take care of the poor, and the demonstrable compassion to do so throughout history was at a time when there were no public services available to provide all the things the homeless need to survive. Today there are. Our tax dollars pay for it. All the transients need to do is access them. There is no reason for transients to rely on the kindness of strangers for their survival.

  4. I read this article yesterday and read the comments. I was mildly dismayed at the lack of concern for our growing and perplexing homeless issue here in West Hollywood. I started to think that perhaps showers and barbers should be set up to help our transient neighbors.


    On my 6:30AM walk to the gym, a deranged-looking homeless man in his 40s or 50s lunged at me on the corner of Santa Monica & La Cienega. I jumped back, but kept walking. What surprised me was that I was not surprised. This is our normal. A block later, I tried to wave down a Sheriff, but he was easily going 50 MPH and was intently staring at his screen (a topic for another conversation). I can handle myself, but this man posed a safety issue for our community.

    These “neighbors” need to be dealt with in a way that does not include allowing them to threaten tax paying citizens. They need to leave WeHo.

  5. New WeHo Marketing campaign slogan: WeHo The Creative City with Homeless in Every Yard and on Every Doorstep.

    Housing, Treatment , Sustainability through a path towards stability seems only logical. Making the homeless clean and fluffy while living on the street and impaired is cruel and inhumane treatment. But even Mayor Garcetti’s goals will probably fail, even with the sales tax funding because there is no political will to level the playing field and erase the widening chasm between rich and poor.

  6. “I am for doing good to the poor, but I differ in opinion of the means. I think the best way of doing good to the poor, is not making them easy in poverty…” – Benjamin Franklin

  7. If you provide an addict with their basic needs, they have no incentive to change. You are NOT helping anyone who calls a sidewalk “home” by normalizing it and enabling them. Every American neighborhood with extensive homeless services- soup kitchens, free clothes, clean needles, new tents, etc- has an exploding homeless population. What started as a perceived need becomes a destination that attracts more homeless. They’re not stupid; they know where to get stuff, and will stick around.

    If anyone is concerned that Weho rents are too high, just make it easier for homeless people to take up residence in front of 24Hr Fitness. Rents will drop as people get sick of it and move away. There is no Utopia where happy, well-fed, clean homeless people share the sidewalk with the residents and visitors who make Weho a desirable city in the first place.

  8. Last evening I saw a guy bathing in the Sal Guarriello Veterans Memorial fountain. He was wearing only shorts and he had a bar of soap. As I passed him on my way to the mailbox he was washing his feet, and when I returned he was drying off his upper body.

    The 9 year old son of friends made gift bags to hand out to the homeless in his Sunday School class. He asked me if I could take some to give away, so I did. The bags have been declined by three people I offered them to, two opened them and took the granola bar and handed them back to me, two of the people who took them threw them away without keeping anything inside (I saw them in the trash), and two others left them behind unopened. These are the same people who ask me for money almost every day.

  9. @ Lily: The best thing you and your neighbors can do is email each of the Councilmembers and Pavilions management. There is a lease with the recycle center and it would be great if the lease was terminated or not renewed. Pressure from the neighborhood could help see that it doesn’t stay long.

  10. Well, lots of comments here. Yes, providing too many services delivered to those ON the streets just enables them. Worse, I feel irritate when I see people handing cash to the homeless. They are literally dying because of these people who are trying to make themselves feel better. $10 bucks or so a year? F that. I observe daily the homeless drinking, smoking pot or meth. Your $1 bill pays for that. Give a substantially to a mission and the greater LA Food bank by auto deductions. I’m fustrated by this growing problem. I’m starting to wonder why I give thousands to social services agencies and nothing improves.

  11. What happened to Bobby Shriver’s “Homeless Solutions” in Santa Monica? After he lost the race for Supervisor haven’t heard a word about it.? Perhaps John Duran can get in touch with him and see what’s up.

    Seems like the opportunities for the homeless folks to get help are few and far between with many hurdles and little follow through. Can we have a Homeless Czar to get things in order and Czarinas in each community to implement ? Any plan with proper outreach is better that this hit and miss idea. How long does it need to be studied?

    Is there some type of organized supervision at the Pavillion’s recycle center? No one wants a recycling center in their front or back yard so how about streamlining this operation where it is so it’s not a nuisance. Maybe Athens would have a few ideas to expand their trash collecting an perhaps reorganizing Pavillion’s facility.

    While everyone seems to be scratching their heads the people that are homeless deteriorate immeasurably. Lotus, the young lady that lives on Crescent Heights between Fountain and Sunset lost a job at a local restaurant and then her apartment on Havenhurst. Since she has resided in doorways and courtyards of various buildings. She is quite conversant, pleasant but also taken to raging from the dark side at all hours perhaps troubled by schizophrenia or the like. SHE IS NOT GETTING BETTER OR GETTING HELP. JOHN, who huddles in a wheelchair near Oki Dog and the bus stop on Fairfax and Willoughby is especially pitiful but have not seen him recently. My heart cries everytime I would see him and Lotus.

  12. Homelessness is is a complicated issue. How best to support the patrons on the street is also a complicated issue. I know because 22-years-ago I started a homeless shelter and outreach program for youth and single mothers.

    @JimmyPalmieri- Thank you for speaking truth to power. Generalizations about the issue helps no one. And we’ve got passionate and skillful people in and around the City that have been tackling this for a long time.

    @ToTheLeft- Your observations are spot on. There isn’t enough outreach because: (a) There’s not enough funding (local and state); (b) There’s no follow-up or follow-through once resources are provided to a patron; (c) Comprehensive plans to tackle this must be top-down. Meaning, we need strong political will from Mayors across SoCal to make this a top priority.

    If you want a smart pathway forward, look to what the LA Board of Supervisors are working on: http://priorities.lacounty.gov/

  13. I just want to add to my previous statement. Every Tuesday I volunteer at the Frends of the west hollywood Library; it’s a bookstore. And I can tell you that a great deal of sales are made to the homeless population. You can tell. They are not druggies or thieves; they are just people who cannot function in everyday society and choose to live outside of the system. But most heartening, they come in and insist on buying books. It’s very touching… these people are not threatening in anyway.

  14. While we figure this out, why can’t the city power wash the sidewalks?
    We need to address getting rid of the smell, vomit, urine and waste.

  15. Twenty years ago Best Buy was the site of a homeless shelter. Path ended their contract with the city last year. Now it appears people are to enter the “system” at homeless service centers in Glendale and Long Beach. Where do homeless people get their TB test so they can be admitted ? Does the city have any kind of outreach to people sleeping rough? How does someone with no money or shoes get these locations?
    Removing a recycling center may lessen the traffic of shopping carts, but paying people 5 dollars a day not to pick thru garbage cans is probably less expensive in the long run.
    It might be frustrating to give someone money to buy food, only to have them buy cigarettes or alcohol. If you were trying to make their day better, a drink and a cigarette was what they needed.
    Is there a master plan to deal with an issue that will never go away? It would be nice if all these committees and advisory boards got together and presented a long term plan to city council.

  16. Yes, JJ, you’re thinking “outside the box”. I never would have made the connection to Pavilions Recycle Center.

  17. If I was going “camping”, i’d do it in the forest. Not somewhere where people would have to step over my vomit and excrement.

  18. To JJ

    It is a great idea to advocate to move the Pavillion Recycle Center; please advise as to how to begin to implement this action. I for one would assist if this can be accomplished.

  19. This is but a sample of what West Hollywood residents experience on a frequent basis..

    June 19

    Aggravated Assault – Other Weapon (Suspect Arrested). 8400 block Santa Monica Boulevard
    at 4:30 p.m. Two men were standing on the sidewalk when they were approached by a homeless man who was holding a wooden stick. The suspect told both victims to stop talking about him and then struck one of the men three times in the face with the stick. Responding deputies located and arrested the suspect. #03260

    .Do I buy him a coffee and sit with him to discuss his violent actions? ..I think not; the police in lieu of locking him up for the night and then release him the following day could perhaps take him to a facility where he can be evaluated and not allow him to be on the streets until a solution is found..

    We have millions to build a robotic garage in West Hollywood but cannot figure out how to effectively handle a violent homeless individual or for that matter. any homeless person.

    If he is mentally ill and is a danger to others and /or to himself then he does does not have the right to be in our community and certainly he and others should not be allowed to live on the sidewalks of West Hollywood..

  20. The Pavilions Recycle Center is a big magnet for the homeless. There isn’t another facility west of us until you get by the beach. If we eliminated that, it would help reduce the influx that our City has seen.

  21. West Hollywood, like SF and NY have been annexed by the wealthy. The homeless referred to in this article are visible due to mental illness and addiction. They have burned their bridges with friends and family so cannot couch surf/serf unlike the many others who lost housing due to ridiculous rents. If we, as a supposedly “liberal” city, can’t prevent homelessness, visible and invisible, in our own backyard then we shouldn’t preach to the right wing on how to have empathy for those struggling under predatory capitalism. The bigger question is why is functioning in society such a complicated misery that the most vulnerable can’t find a way to contribute, and instead feel that their only option is to become homeless drug addicts.

  22. I wonder if there is some collective guilt that is assuaged by the embrace and tolerance for the homeless. For those who need to be needed and enjoy the recognition for your compassion and your work for the transients, you may be making the problem worse and not really helping nearly as much as you think. WeHo is becoming a dumping ground for people who are enabled to continue living their lives irresponsibly by bleeding hearts whose compassion might have a greater impact if it were directed elsewhere.

  23. Sorry Jimmy, your confident analysis and the efforts that you’re so highly promoting aren’t working well enough.

    Some of the things this op-ed suggests is also counter-productive to the lives of individuals living in this unfortunate and difficult state.

    Enabling people to remain in a bad condition forever or allowing them to stay passed out on a sidewalk for hours and hours is not a very kind thing to do…….and sorry folks, that’s what’s happening in Weho.

  24. We have lived in West Hollywood for many years ,however, we plan to move soon to a neighborhood where we can stop for a coffee and not be harassed , where we can visit the library and not have the librarians be fearful of asking homeless individuals to be respectful of the quiet and where we can walk outside and not find homeless sleeping, urinating and defecating on all corners of our street.

    We agree with CGM that by offering more and more services to the homeless more will arrive…Where are our rights?

    Does anyone know how Beverly Hills handles the homeless situation as the city is virtually free of the” housing challenged’? perhaps we need to consult with Beverly Hills City Hall…

  25. Encouraging people to live on the streets by providing amenities (food, grooming, showers, etc..) is not a solution. It just attracts more homeless people into town from other areas. Look at San Francisco as the perfect test case. They spend millions on homeless programs, and the problems grow every year. It’s out of control.

    Remember one simple economic lesson: what you subsidize, you get more of.

    It’s as simple as that.

  26. Rod Sprott, I have a lot of ambivalence on this topic. I have helped a few people who were in my life and who might have been on the streets if I hadn’t helped them by providing a roof over their heads, food, and helping with transportation. Those people, however, were in transition, so there was an end-point in sight. If things didn’t work out for them as they hoped, they would have taken a minimum wage job and started all over.

    When I have helped street transients, though, I have often felt burned. I gave $5 to a guy a while back, and saw him later with a new pack of cigarettes. Instead of giving a woman money for food, as she asked for, I took her into a restaurant and let her order anything she wanted. I paid for the meal right away, went next door to a store to pick up an item, and then returned to the restaurant to find that she had left right after I did. The plate of food was on the counter but there was no one to eat it.

    I take exception to your last sentence in your first paragraph where you say, “Yet we routinely deny people this basic human need.” I can’t feed the eight transients I pass going to the gym every day. It has been my observation that an awful lot of transients are that way because that’s what they want. They don’t want to be bothered with the responsibilities of a job, of maintaining a home, and even maintaining relationships. I could provide lots of stories that would likely lead most people to the same conclusion, but I’ll hold off on that.

    Misguided compassion, or compassion without logic accomplishes nothing in the long term. I don’t know what the solution is to this problem in WeHo, but it may be found by thinking outside the box.

  27. This is a very interesting article and the replies are quite informative. I know we who live in our little ‘hood are privileged. But how many of us may be just one paycheck away from being homeless? We sleep in a bed, take a shower, go the refrigerator, use the bathroom as we wish. Those of our brothers and sisters who are on the street are not able to do this. Have you ever needed to go to the bathroom and couldn’t find one? That’s not a good feeling. Yet, routinely we deny people this basic human need.

    Engaging with homeless people is not inherently dangerous. In fact, treating them with respect shows us how not dangerous they are. I’ve done it many times. It’s amazing what it means to someone for another person to say “hello”. We take that for granted. Some homeless people do have anger issues, but certainly not all.

    I heard a description recently that homeless people are gray. They start off on the street with clothes that are colors but over time they and the clothes get dirty and gray and, in effect, disappear. Providing a place to get a shower and wash clothes is not pampering or throwing money at a problem. Rather it is allowing a person to regain some sense of dignity. And then there are haircuts.. with all the salons in Weho surely there are some who would be willing to give haircuts. How do you feel after you’ve had your hair cut? Don’t you think others feel the same? It’s all part of a makeover and goodness knows we are know what that means! How can someone even think about looking for a job if they can’t have a shower, clean clothes or a haircut?

    Recently Starbucks decided to remove people they don’t like from their stores. Twice I’ve seen Starbucks employees at BGS and SM/Robertson yell at a homeless person to “get out of here.” On the same days I’ve seen homeless people enjoying a cup of coffee at Coffee Bean. What a difference.

    I like living in Weho and have for a long time, but I do find it sad that those of us who are fortunate enough to live comfortably are so quick to condemn others who are not so lucky. And, please, do not use 3rd world South American countries as a model. The squalor and poverty that most, if not all, of them have far surpasses the homelessness we have.

  28. @Jimmy: My regrets for using the phrase ” throwing money at the homeless” as it was used as a figure of speech. Thank you for illuminating the simple, but not so simple, elements of your work which more should know about. Why is there not an Ascencia in every community? How is it funded, staffed etc. What would it take to implement one in WeHo? What are the resources nearby in LA, BH or Santa Monica? Why is there not a network?

  29. I feel that it is absolutely necessary that I comment on this article. Phrases like “We throw money at the homeless” , are sound bytes that are totally unfounded and dangerous. As a Human Services Commissioner for the city, I can assure you that we throw not a single penny extra of what is needed at ANYONE. We work extremely hard , with dozens of hours if not hundreds, over many months, reading proposals from agencies that assist in a problem that is NOT West Hollywood specific, but a nationwide problem.

    I’d like to clear one thing up. Most housing challenged folks are NOT CRIMINALS, LAZY OR NOT TRYING TO HELP THEMSELVES. Many are mentally ill. This is a problem that is no fault of their own. Please don’t respond with the uneducated phrase “Why don’t they help themselves?”. The mere fact that they are mentally ill answers that. Many use substances and alcohol also. I am not denying that. Perhaps, it is to numb the pain of the life they are in, perhaps it is a replacement for medication that they don’t have, or perhaps it is simply because they are addicts that haven’t had the opportunity for recovery. Have you ever tried to navigate the system of getting into recovery? It is difficult, borderline impossible. That is why I am proud to say that Weho offers many many solutions for recovery. We can’t simply grab someone by the hair and drag them to a facility though.
    Being homeless is NOT a crime. I can however assure you that we have out reach teams that work diligently in forming relationships with these folks, in the hopes of gently assisting them into services.
    Shelters, in name alone are scary to most, including the homeless. I am grateful that we have replaced a shelter that in my opinion was a scary place to be, and now have Ascencia. It is a very homelike shelter, and after touring it, I felt a sense of relief. It is clean, bedbug free and has food for the members. The only drawback is that it is in Glendale, but I promise you, once the word gets out, I believe many of our housing challenged residents will try it out.

    On any given night there are up to 57,794 or more homeless folks in the county of LA. West Hollywood has approx 82 that we are right now aware of. This is NOT a crisis in , but a problem , yes.

    The city is diligent, in offering an array of services, from mental health, to food, to shelter services as well as healthcare.

    As a side note, many folks are literally 2-3 paychecks away from homelessness themselves. Be it for lack of income, disability, loss of spouse or breadwinner etc. Please don’t assume that someone wakes up and says to themselves , “Today might be the day that is seems good to live on the streets.” It just isn’t true.

    My wish , is that residents ask where they might be able to help in this crisis. Could you donate to a food pantry, or bring your clothes to a place where they are distributed? Could you wash dishes at a shelter? Could you serve a meal at a shelter and realize that these folks are like you and I but have fallen on hard times.
    Also I personally would like to invite you to come to a Human Services Commission meeting ANYTIME. We want you to know what is REALLY going on, and not just listen to your neighbors about how we have a crisis here.

    Don’t judge folks unless you have walked in their shoes was the kindest comment I have read on this thread.

  30. WeHoMikey, you completely missed my point. Are you suggesting that a nearly naked man who is running into traffic and another one who is urinating openly does not call for some intervention?

    And, WeHoMikey and Just sayin’, the deinstitutionalizing of mental hospitals began with Pres. Kennedy. California Gov. Pat Brown passed that with a Democrat assembly and it fell to Gov. Reagan to implement it in the beginning of his administration.

  31. New YorkTimes article Oct. 30, 1984, HOW RELEASE OF MENTAL PATIENTS BEGAN by Richard D. Lyons:

    If the US Senate passes the healthcare bill, it won’t be hard to contemplate the results upon the homeless and the neighborhoods of each and every city, town and hamlet. We are likely to have an exponential human disaster that will make the feared immigrant situation pale in comparison.

  32. JJ, you are generalizing people in these circumstances. You failed to mention that LA has a significant housing shortage. And we are now listed as the “least affordable” metropolitan area in the country. This is based on what housing costs, relative to what people make.

    People become homeless for all kinds of reasons. Yes, some of them start out on drugs. But it can also start with job loss, family trauma, mental illness, and then a downward spiral of depression and an eventual dependency on substances. I don’t look at social services as “enabling” people.

    If you haven’t walked in their shoes, you probably don’t know what it feels like to “help yourself.” Being depressed, and an addict, not so easy. Addicts reach for substances to numb themselves.

    I know people who have paying jobs, aren’t drug addicts, and can barely afford to live here. They have people living in the living rooms to make ends meet. No ability to afford a car even. This problem goes way beyond people who are “drug addicts.” And once again, and most important, they don’t necessarily start there. They fall into drug and alcohol dependency to numb themselves from the misery of their lives, after losing everything, and end up living on the street. I personally know a few people on the edge of this situation, or who were there for a period of time.

  33. PS: JJ, I think it is imperative that we help people who can’t help themselves. That’s what we’re supposed to do as human beings.

  34. i think all the suggestions you outlined, Hank, are wonderful and there should be a way we can help carry them out. The homeless aren’t going anywhere soon and until a solution is found I think it’s vital that everyday needs are taken care of, i.e., food, shower, clothes. Not everyone on the street is a drug addict (meth) which might account for the extreme bizarre behavior. I keep promising myself that I will buy a few loaves of bread, make sandwiches and hand them out with a bottle of water to people I see dozing on the street. A few years ago I was given a card by the city which had the name and phone number of various kinds of shelters that I tried to hand out I don’t know what happened with that program. Anyway, I agree; we have to do something to help the homeless and not hurt them in any way, emotionally or otherwise.

  35. Jake, right. Especially considering the LGBT population of our city, I’m not really sure what gender has to do with it.

    I love the rest of this article. Especially about the shower facilities. SF has implemented that program.

    It is time for the City of West Hollywood to acknowledge that we have homeless people here, and they aren’t going anywhere. With all of the money they have, and as liberal of a city as we claim to be, its time that more resources be devoted to this issue. How much would it cost to have a mobile shower unit? And with all of the developer money coming into this town, can’t the city require that they contribute to a fund that provides for these services?

  36. Thanks to Ronald Reagan ‘s thinking in 1967 apparently confining the mentally ill against their will deserved releasing them to the great unknown. Ten years ago I spoke with an obviously well educated homeless woman on Fairfax, who had formerly worked for a law firm. I suspected she was in the grips of schizophrenia. RR was the big issue that she could well articulate. Although certainly unscientific, I often wonder if his debilitating Alzheimers wasn’t in some way connected to what he didn’t want to remember.

    Collectively do we throw money at the homeless problem to avoid our connection to it and our memory of it?

  37. JJ, most (all?) of the chronically homeless are mentally ill and are unable to help themselves. However, in America, we allow everyone ‘choice’, and that includes letting those incapable of making informed choice the ‘choice’ to refuse psychiatric medications, housing, personal sanitation, etc.
    Blueeyedboy, blaming government or law enforcement misses the point. Homelessness (and the underlying mental illness) isn’t a crime, and treating it as such isn’t going to make it change or disappear. Reagan, as Governor, shut down the state-run psychiatric hospitals because he believed it was a misspending of tax money – so now we are forced to see mental illness in our back yards. Crimes committed by the homeless are rarely serious or violent, and our jails are already bursting at the seams. We can convict homeless for these crimes, but because there are far more dangerous people in the legal system, the homeless ‘convict’ is released on probation. Judges know it’s not a good solution, Sheriffs know it’s not a good solution, elected officials know it’s not a good solution, and the nonprofits funded by our tax dollars to try to manage the situation know it’s not a good solution – perhaps you’ll have a better solution to try?

  38. I think it should be illegal to set up shop in public areas. We need to throw that money into rehabilitations centers and facilities where a task force picks up the people and brings them to have doctors look at them, give needed medications, train them and get them back into low income housing to bring them back into society. Leaving a person on the side of the street with a mobile shower and hair cut service isn’t helping anyone but the people that walk by them so they “fit in” more.

  39. We recently had some friends visiting from South America. They commented on the large number of homeless people in our City and found it very disturbing. They said “we don’t have that problem in our City.” We asked why they think that is and they responded with, “you make it too easy to be homeless here. They can get free meals, clothes, etc.. Why would they try to be something other when everyone else is paying for them? Where we come from, everyone has to pull their weight, there is no free handout.” Made us think. We keep throwing money at the problem and the number of homeless just continues to soar. Now with the idea of free haircuts, showers, laundry service…would that really decrease the homeless population? The people of LA County just passed another tax increase to throw more money at the problem, but will it really make a difference? Most of the homeless I see aren’t people who lost their jobs and can no longer afford a home, they are drug addicts, have mental issues or just choose not do try and make a living and get off the street (like the guy says in the article). You can’t help people that won’t help themselves.

  40. As I walk to the gym daily I pass about eight transients. A few months ago I saw that one of them had set up house at the bus stop by CVS at Santa Monica Blvd. and LaCienega. He was using the entire space so that no one could sit there or be under the cover as they wait for the bus. I saw him there for several days. I knew that sheriff’s deputies had to have seen him there and I wondered when they would move him. One day I saw him with his pants down to his knees so that his butt and genitals were fully exposed, and he was walking into the first lane of traffic. At the same time there was another transient urinating on the tree right next to that bus stop. I called 911. The person who answered my call told me that was not an emergency and he gave me another number to call. I told him I would not remember the number so, “YOU call them!” I reminded him that this guy was walking into traffic and that there were older women and children present, presumably waiting for the bus, and that seemed like an emergency to me.

    Years ago a friend was arrested (or maybe he was just given a ticket) for urinating behind a bar in the alley next to a dumpster at 2:00 AM. How are we supposed to know, when we see someone lying still across the sidewalk, if they are in need of immediate medical attention or are just ….. homeless, … in which case we just step over them and go on our way? We need to know what the rules are, and there needs to be consistency in enforcement.

  41. Why are we encouraging people to live on our streets. Are you knucking futz! Stop the madness. We need to discourage street life and help our brothers and sisters to get well and OFF the streets. Not encourage a clean and comfortable “camping” lifestyle. Good Lord. Has everyone lost their mind?

  42. “Don’t engage with a homeless person of the opposite sex alone, and especially if he or she isn’t in a very public place.” should read “Don’t engage with a homeless person alone if he or she isn’t in a very public place.” Sex doesn’t make a difference.

Comments are closed.