Felicitas and Gonzalo Mendez High School

Homelessness—the epidemic that must be cured

The United states is the best country in the world. Well, that is what they’ll tell you anyway, but the U.S is far from being the best if you ask me. The U.S. is no totalitarian country but it concerns itself with the problems of the world without first solving the problems it has here at home. Consider, for example, the fact that there are 578,424 homeless people living in the U.S. This is a problem that we need to address.

As of 2014 this number includes people living in shelters, veterans, and families which have nowhere to go. This shows how bad the problem affecting the U.S. is as 67,513 of those individuals consist of entire families who were forced out onto the streets. We, as a country, need to do as much as we can to help these people in their time of need.

In Los Angeles alone, this population ranges from 3000 to 6000 homeless living in one area known as Skid Row. This community is an example of what happens when the homeless are left to suffer instead of being helped. This is just one area of the city. In Los Angeles, according to the Institute for the Study of Homelessness and Poverty at the Weingart Center, an estimated 254,000 men, women, and children experience homelessness in Los Angeles County during some part of the year, and approximately 82,000 people are homeless on any given night. The problems on Skid Row are not completely ignored as organizations such as the Los Angeles Mission and The Midnight Mission are providing services and helping those in need to the best of their abilities. However, must the people of the city let this issue rest on their shoulders while the problem only worsens? I believe that it is the duty of the government to help the people of this country in their time of need.

Many of the people who are homeless are there because of things that were out of their control such as the loss of loved ones, job loss, domestic violence, divorce, family disputes and other tragic life occurrences. Other impairments such as depression, untreated mental illness, post traumatic stress disorder, and physical disabilities are also responsible for a large portion of homelessness.  Many factors push people into living on the street. Acknowledging them can help facilitate the end of homelessness in America. There are many things we can do such as providing shelter to many of the homeless with empty buildings scattered throughout Los Angeles, and most of these buildings are currently owned by foreign investors. Do we really need more condos that will just make the cost of living go up and create even more homeless?

A new UCLA study confirms that Los Angeles is now the least affordable rental market in the country. This is based on the portions of renters’ incomes that go to paying rent. The study, from UCLA’s Luskin School of Public Affairs and published by the Ziman Center for Real Estate, shows that the average renter in Los Angeles, which has the highest percentage of renters in the country, devotes 47 percent of his or her paycheck to rent. This shows one important reason why the homeless rate in Los Angeles is so high. Most of the money people earn is going to their home and leaving with them with barely anything to live off of. Housing isn’t much of a problem when you consider the drug abuse that ravages skid row. It is estimated that 33%-66% of single individuals have substance abuse issues and these people need to be helped before they re-enter society.

If I were President, I would propose that there be an area of shelters in Los Angeles dedicated to helping addicts so that they may hopefully re-enter society as functioning American citizens.

The homeless epidemic in the U.S can be solved, but we as Americans must band together if we ever hope to change anything and that means the government must be willing to help the people of this country, whether that means funding programs or leading the charge themselves. All I know is that something must be done to fix this problem.

Writing by Steven Gurrola

Art by Cristal Trujillo

Join us February 16 as students perform their work live through spoken word, music, video and theatre on in Downtown LA. RSVP here