Before moving to LA, I tended to think of the homeless as simply people that had gotten themselves strung out on drugs and alcohol and couldn’t find a road back. Living in Los Angeles has changed my view on that.
The element above is definitely a very large percentage of those that have made the streets their home. But I’ve run into quite a few who have simply been squeezed out in a city where rents on a cheap apartment are inflating at staggering rates while wages are dropping for many.
This is something our housing developers and government officials are turning a blind eye to. Ironically, Los Angeles has a number of new apartment buildings that are a long way from fully occupied… in a city with a mind boggling housing shortage… simply because there are too few people earning the $100,000 per year needed to qualify to rent them!
I saw this woman on the Venice Boardwalk as I was wrapping up a shoot. If she isn’t homeless, she is quite close to it. She is old, tired, weatherbeaten. Yet somehow she manages to drag her equally old and weatherbeaten baby grand piano out to the boardwalk where she plays for tips.
The odds may be stacked against her. But she is still out there creating beautiful music for those that pass by. It’s something you might want to think about the next time you try to download your favorite song from a bootleg site instead of paying the artist a couple of bucks for their work. And that goes double for swiping photos off of Instagram like so many of our publications are now doing. When we do that, we too are contributing to the problem.
BTW, I don’t think the solution to the homeless problem is handouts or government subsidized housing. When you solve a problem without addressing the cause of the problem, it gets worse… as it has done in Los Angeles. The solution to this problem is to investigate and address the corruption in government, business and economic circles that is creating the problem in the first place.
We can all do something about it. But it starts with throwing away the idea of “what can one person do about it.” Because the answer is we can each do a lot if we decide to take responsibility for the world around us.