Joel John Roberts
Posts by Joel John Roberts
After 20 years, the work of ending homelessness is much more difficult. The people we help are much more chronically homeless than before. Our supporters are more jaded. Our community is less compassionate for people who have been on their streets for decades.
Forget shelters, they were simply bandages. Tear those shelter Band-Aids off quickly. The new, and improved solutions to homelessness were supposed to end veteran and chronic homelessness by the end of 2015
I wonder how the 650,000 people in New York and New Jersey who lost their homes during Hurricane Sandy would have responded if government officials had told them to wait a half a year, while they figure out a plan to help them?
But here in Los Angeles, where 44,000 of our neighbors have lost homes and live on our streets, the political power of these people we call “homeless” is so weak that it is okay for our community to put on hold any idea of a “state of emergency.”
What does it say when the United States—which has enough funds to build a house for every single person in the country, never mind every person who is homeless in New York City and Los Angeles—allows its citizens to languish on the streets?
Back home in Los Angeles, where homelessness has increased by 12 percent, the sprawling tent cities of America’s homeless remind me of the desperate refugees half a world away. Exhausted, sick, and somber people residing in tents on sidewalks, many of whom have given up hoping to escape the streets.
. . . lawsuits and ordinances are becoming the weapons of choice for addressing homelessness. Advocates for people experiencing homelessness are battling with city officials and their proposed ordinances designed to “clean up” the streets.
In Los Angeles today, those 1970s families would need to earn almost $70,000 per year just to rent an apartment. I can’t picture the Brady household – two parents, six kids, a housekeeper and dog – all living in an apartment in San Fernando Valley.
But then the parties started. Out came the drugs. Cars pulled up and Harry’s new neighbors sidled up alongside them, negotiating with the drivers. His street had become a swap meet for illegal substances.
Although the needs of the people we serve have become more intensive, one thing hasn’t necessarily changed. Ironically, they often still come from middle-class America.
A worker needs to earn $33 per hour to rent an average apartment in Los Angeles County. Los Angeles plans to raise its minimum wage to $15 per hour by 2020. If that wage level were implemented in 2015, the average household would need more than two employed persons in order to afford a typical apartment.