LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- Reverend Andy Bales knows many of the citizens on Skid Row by name, and they know him.
The CEO of Union Rescue Mission has been ministering on the streets for more than a decade, hearing heartbreaking stories every day.
Recently, Bales lost his leg to a bacterial infection that he picked up on the streets. As if he needed any additional empathy, he says it's given him more.
More than 5,000 live on Skid Row, numbering among the county's 47,000 homeless. Voters overwhelmingly approved a $1.2 billion homeless housing bond and in March will consider a sales tax hike for support services.
Bales says this will house only 20 percent, and money for shelters is decreasing.
"The policy, although it's good for the few, it leaves the many out on the streets," Bales said.
He wants to lease empty city and county buildings. He says he could get thousands off the streets immediately.
"We've ignored it for a long time," Bales said. "We've let thousands of people suffer on the streets."
Inside the Rescue Mission, the population is 1,300, now with more women than men. There are more choices of housing for men. This is the only downtown shelter open to women and children, where they try to make a home till they can find housing.
Cots line the mission's chapel -- sleeping quarters just added when Bales found an elderly woman outside with no place to go.
"Since that day, every woman whose come our way, we've just found them a cot," Bales said. "How could we ever leave a woman on the mean streets of Skid Row?"
Bales continues his daily rounds, praying for miracles and the shelters that so many desperately need.
LA's Skid Row at epicenter of homeless housing crisis
More TOP STORIES News