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What Christmas Looks Like on Skid Row, Where 20,000 Homeless Live in L.A.

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There are more homeless in some of America’s large cities than there are people in some towns. And the notorious Skid Row is one of those camps. Few Americans understand the scope of the issue, and many who do rarely see what life is like on the ground, but a new video has captured the scale of the problem and it is hard to look away.

This is Los Angeles, but not a movie set. This is Skid Row, and the tents that line the streets house the lucky ones.Most sleep in the open.

“This is what Christmas Day looked like for thousands of homeless people in the dark and dingy underbelly of Downtown Los Angeles this year,” The Daily Mail writes.

“Shot on 5th Street, 6th Street and San Pedro Street,  it is a stark glimpse into the day-to-day existence of some of the country’s poorest citizens – including women and children.”

The area is in downtown LA’s central business district, away from the major tourist destinations most associate with the city. There are shelters and missions in the area, but they’re regularly filled to capacity.

“The three-minute clip was originally published on Instagram by LA street artist Plastic Jesus then on LiveLeak by Nick Stern in the ‘Citizen Journalism’ video category,” DM notes. But the original video is much longer.

Many of the residents, if they can be called that, suffer from drug addiction. The opioid epidemic hit many hard, and others are there after developing dependencies on synthetic drugs.

Others are there because of disabilities, both physical and mental. There is a food shortage, too, and many have noted how thin some of the children appear.

 

“The rising cost of rent and housing in California is also forcing middle class residents into alternative accommodation,” DM adds. “Workers end up living in their cars by the roadside and hundreds of people – including nurses and chefs – sleep in parking lots in affluent areas like Santa Barbara.”

In an effort to keep the homeless safe, officials have tried to keep them out of areas like Skid Row. A Safe Parking Program was started more than a decade ago that allows those living in their cars to park in the parking lots of churches and schools and offices.

While the move has proved safe spaces for some to call home, however temporarily, it has also made the issue of homelessness harder to see. It takes something like this video below to really capture the attention of the nation.