We know houselessness is widespread in Los Angeles County, but the problem is not just that it’s widespread. The problem is that a human being can actually be subjected to marginalization and shame by society. Contemporary houselessness is the inability to exist and afford a “normal” place to live in a society misguided by an unhealthy need to accumulate wealth by a few. A society guided by those who benefit from being able to actively participate in the real estate market.
This crisis is the by-product of our government’s lack of humanity and inhumane economic system. This city’s government does nothing to stop our culture’s rampant dehumanization and the inhumanity that ensues, which should be its priority in the 21st century.
Cuts in social spending, mental health care, public housing development, public education, arts, and humanities, affect the communities that have historically not been allowed to hold much of the wealth. Economies transitioned from manufacturing economies to post-industrial service economies. This was especially the case in Los Angeles, where the 1966 and 1994 uprisings were rooted in the departure of Firestone, Goodrich, and others, who would no longer offer jobs to communities plagued by city-wide racism.
Houselessness devolved into what it is today when the underregulated and predatory real estate industry, aided and abetted by the police, began to target communities with depressed land value. This explains why 40 percent of houseless Angelinxs are from Black communities that were systematically lacking in social services and planning interventions by government policy makers. Houseless or not, a human being is a human being. Where governments have failed, communities must succeed.
To do this, we must commit ourselves to humanity. We must turn away from policing and uproot it in all its form. Any services, outreach, or other government or community-based response to our houseless relatives must include the following principles:
- Solidarity with the unhoused person and/or unhoused community
- Harmony between houseless and housed toward new communities
- Empathy should be the cardinal value in engaging with a houseless community member;
- Harm reduction models
- Deep knowledge of the housing and services available to unhoused people, and limitations on what is actually available
- Deep knowledge of all civil rights laws, and human rights more broadly, that protect unhoused people forced to live on our streets and sidewalks
- An understanding that we are years, if not decades, away from having enough housing or shelter of any kind for all unhoused people in Venice and across the LA region and therefore, we must build community and address community health issues with and for unhoused neighbors.
In addition, the Venice community hopes to organize around principles and demands such as:
- Demand the city use their properties throughout Los Angeles and create housing.
- Use the old Purdue Courthouse complex for safe parking with services
- Educate the people that Los Angeles is only as good as its poor and houseless
- Educate those that want to be educated
- Offering drug education to houseless neighbors gives hope, and to families too
- Free storage space for belongings during the day or week as this allows for some mental freedom.
Venice Equity Alliance
A collective alliance dedicated to bettering the lives of the most excluded and oppressed in Venice, California