Homeless hearing on Skid Row: Millions spent, but no improvement, officials say

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Wednesday, December 4, 2019
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Local leaders gathered in the Skid Row area to discuss how to tackle the growing crisis of homelessness in Los Angeles County.

SKID ROW, LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- There are almost 59,000 homeless people in Los Angeles County as of this year, and the numbers continue to grow. Even as 123 people get off the streets every day, another 154 become homeless.

"We are bailing water out of this boat faster than ever before, but the hole on the bottom of the boat is so large that we are at risk of this boat sinking," says Phil Ansell from the Los Angeles County Homeless Initiative.

Tuesday's hearing to deal with homelessness took place in the Skid Row area. Right outside the front door, there were homeless: Tents line the sidewalks. The nearby area flooded last week during the heavy rains. They will be here during Tuesday night's storm.

"Every single day in the county of Los Angeles, as many as three people die on the streets directly attributable to homelessness, twice the homicide rate in this county. If that doesn't get your attention I don't know what will," Los Angeles County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas said.

Teresa Winkler used to be homeless. She spoke at the hearing. She says there is a reluctance by some homeless to get help and get off the streets.

"The mental illness kicks in (and they say) no I don't want to hear that, go away, because I was that person and I used to say I don't want to hear that go away from me. It's how you approach the people," said Winkler.

Officials say they are spending hundreds of millions of dollars, and nothing has improved. They need to find a better way.

Assemblymember Miguel Santiago from Los Angeles put it bluntly: "People are pissed, and they're angry, and they're frustrated about the homelessness situation, and if they haven't lost confidence, they're losing it very, very, very quickly."