Studio City homeowners, homeless hope for solution to restore quality of life for all

STUDIO CITY, LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- In Studio City, where million-dollar homes surround a scenic park, there is no escaping Southern California's homeless crisis. Now, homeless people and homeowners are hoping for a solution that will restore quality of life for all of them.

The area's South Weddington Park is like many other suburban parks across Los Angeles County -- home to picnics on weekdays and little league baseball on Saturdays. But it's also a place where a growing number of homeless people are living.

Brittany moved to L.A. from Florida in 2009. She worked in adult films until it no longer paid the bills. She stayed with friends until she could, and she's been on the streets for a year.

"I've always had an apartment. I've always been the one to help somebody else and take them in, and I cannot get one person to help me," she said.

"Steve," who didn't want to show his face, said he's a union carpenter who was on his way to Portland, Oregon, to look for work when police pulled him over and impounded his truck with all his belongings.

He said he did time in jail after getting into a fist fight while looking for food for his pregnant girlfriend. Now, they're homeless.

When asked why he won't go to shelters, "Steve" said he and his girlfriend "don't trust them at all."

The official count puts the number of homeless in Los Angeles County at 58,000 -- that's enough to fill Staples Center nearly three times over.

The problem has expanded far beyond Skid Row, to suburban neighborhoods all over the county, and that has prompted city and county leaders to declare a homeless crisis.

Voters in both L.A city and county responded. They passed two measures that increase sales and parcel taxes, which raises money to combat homelessness to the tune of $1.5 billion over the next 10 years.

About 12,000 people have been taken off the streets. For the people who live near South Weddington Park, help can't come soon enough.

"There are transients living regularly as outdoor people in this neighborhood, and they are as familiar to me as my neighbors," said homeowner Megan Molloy.

The numbers are encouraging, but after a 23 percent spike in homelessness in just the past year, can even this aggressive effort keep up with the increasing problem?
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