LA 2020

Homeless Encampment Fires in Los Angeles on Rise

A fire broke out on Wednesday at a homeless encampment in Los Angeles beside the 101 Freeway at Virgil Avenue, threatening a nearby apartment building.

In the cut in of the cell phone footage provided by a neighbor, you can see and hear as explosions occur during the fire.

The resident said projectiles from the explosions landed in his yard.  He said that the people in the encampment appeared to be taking and dealing drugs.

As the homeless population in Los Angeles has skyrocketed, so have the fires.  Los Angeles experienced a staggering increase in the number of fires during 2020 and the early part of 2021.  Higher than any year in memory.

The increase in the number of fires since 2019 is over 45 percent. More than half of those fires are related to the homeless encampments.

This fire endangered a neighboring apartment building.  In other fires, businesses in downtown Los Angeles have burned down due to fires that started in homeless encampments.  Likewise, businesses have burned in Venice after fires erupted in the homeless encampments that surround them.  Where they haven’t been destroyed by fires, businesses near the encampments have suffered a major loss of revenue when the encampments discourage customers.

The situation with the homeless is the shame of Los Angeles.  While hundreds of millions of dollars have been spent in an effort to house the homeless, they have failed miserably due to corruption.  

The problem will never be solved by throwing more money at it.  The root causes need to be addressed.

Los Angeles suffers from a severe lack of AFFORDABLE housing.  Beneath this problem is the corruption in government. A recent example is when the FBI arrested a number of Los Angeles City Council members and staff in an elaborate pay to play scheme to build in the city.  Developers also face a nightmare labyrinth of regulations they must comply with that drive costs out the roof.

The homeless population in Los Angeles is also a testimonial to the utter failure of the War on Drugs.  Over a trillion dollars has been spent on the war on drugs since its inception in 1971.  Not only as it failed to resolve the problem of illegal drugs… we now have more illegal drugs on the streets than when it started.

The homeless problem can seem complex but that’s only because we are looking too late in the chain of events.  We are addressing symptoms and not causes. In an interview we did earlier with Union Station homeless services in Pasadena, 75% of the homeless became homeless because they were priced out of the housing market. The drug addiction and mental illness began after.

When the average rent is greater than the average income as it currently is for many Angelenos, people give up hope.  They see no future.  It’s then easy to turn to drugs and alcohol to numb the unpleasant reality.

While housing and services are needed to lift those that have fallen into the trap back on to their feet, none of these solutions will work until we address the systemic corruption beneath the problem.  We need to face the simple fact that when trillions are being spent to address these problems results in the problem growing larger that there is graft and corruption going on.  

When THAT issue is addressed, we’ll see results from the programs.

Until then, Angelenos are increasingly threatened by the burgeoning tent cities that they must pass through when they step out their front door.

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