So Long, LA!
Why Am I Moving Out Of Los Angeles, You Ask? Let Me Tell You...
It's July of 2020, and the homeless crisis in Los Angeles has gotten increasingly worse. I've been sexually assaulted, stalked, chased, and was threatened with weapons several times during COVID-19.
The police have proven time and time again to be unreliable in an emergency, and in some cases, they refuse to show up at all.
There's a particular homeless man that has been terrorizing my work and my community for years. He's attacked men with crowbars, sexually assaulted women and girl scouts, he's even chased my boss out of her store for several blocks with a weapon, and nobody came to her aid- and this was all before the pandemic!
A few weeks ago, he beat a pedestrian with a crowbar across the street from where I work, and his victim had to be taken away in an ambulance. It was terrifying, and the incident could have been prevented. There are multiple reports on this mentally unstable man, and yet he still wanders around the neighborhood harming people. He should have gotten the psychiatric treatment he deserved years ago.
Unfortunately, there are no resources for men and women living on the streets in Los Angeles, and the police aren't equipped to handle any situation involving the homeless community.
Things Need To Change.
Homeless men and women are arriving all over Los Angeles in rapid succession, and a lot of them are a danger to themselves and society.
Homeless encampments are catching on fire all the time. I've seen women wandering the streets confused and naked, and the drug problem has increased exponentially.
Last week, I saw a man not much older than myself lying on the sidewalk outside my apartment. He looked dead. People were stepping over him, and I ran over to see if he was alive. As I got closer, I saw a heroin needle stuck in his arm. He was barely conscious, but he didn't want my help. He just wanted to sleep.
Cops were called, but nobody came to help him.
I've seen a lot of discarded needles on the ground. They litter the shantytowns that continue to grow and take over the sidewalks. Still, these men and women have nowhere else to go, and without any resources, they are getting desperate, and desperate people often turn to violence.
There's been multiple stabbings and increased home robberies in my neighborhood. Cars and businesses get broken into daily, and I often go to bed, hearing the sounds of shattering glass.
A few weeks ago, my coworker got robbed by a homeless woman threatening her with a razor blade. Then there was a man wielding a pickaxe and threatening customers at my work. The owner called the police for help, but they never showed up.
They told her that unless someone was injured, they wouldn't come at all.
One day, I was followed home. It was startling. The man chased me up to my apartment building, where I barred the door to keep him from entering. He lingered around, looking through windows to see if he could find me or another way to get inside.
I asked my boyfriend to walk me to and from work after that, and I kept pepper spray on me at all times. I couldn't leave my apartment without being escorted by him, which made me feel like a prisoner.
A few days ago, while I was at work, another man started masturbating in front of my store window and threatening me with rape. My boyfriend, who was grabbing a coffee from across the street, saw what was happening and ran over to chase him off.
I told the manager that we needed to hire private security, but the owners said it was too expensive.
The next day I kept the door to the shop locked and only allowed customers I felt were safe to enter. Having the door closed deterred most of the homeless community from wandering in, but then a familiar face smashed itself against the window.
I immediately recognized him as the man who followed me home. He was rubbing his crotch and leering at me, trying to get inside, so I called the LA Homeless Service Authority. The automated voice stated the number was for homeless adults who needed shelter; it wasn't for victims needing help. I called another hotline, but it was disconnected.
I was frantically searching for any number to call, and nothing was coming up. I felt like I couldn't rely on the police in this situation, and I didn't know what to do. I felt helpless and scared.
My illusion of safety was shattered, and I was trapped in that store for twenty minutes until two customers scared him off. They asked me if I was alright, but I wasn't alright. I closed up the shop immediately, and then I called my store manager and quit.
As I was walking home, that man was waiting for me around the corner. He was now shirtless, and it was clear what he had planned to do to me if I couldn't outrun him. He was a predator, and he was on the hunt. Luckily, I was faster.
I sprinted four blocks to make it to my apartment safely, and then I cried all night.
I Started Packing The Next Day.
I feel this situation in Los Angeles will only worsen within the next few months, and I don't plan on sticking around for it. I'm now committed to moving somewhere I can feel safe.
I've already booked a flight to a small town I love, and I plan to walk around the neighborhood, and hopefully, I'll find a place to rent at a reasonable price.
But I couldn't leave LA without giving a letter to my city councilmember David Ryu explaining that there are some clear gaps in the city's support for both residents and people experiencing homelessness. In my letter, I expressed a need for trained individuals capable of coming to a victim's aid and phone numbers that we can easily find in panicked situations. I briefly talked about my experiences in recent weeks, and I expressed the need for action.
As a result, Feild Deputy Rachel Fox gave me a personal call to discuss the situation further. I felt like she listened to my suggestion that by stabilizing people through shelter, and moving them into permanent housing, and implementing assistance programs to help people keep their homes, we could massively reduce the homeless situation.
I also requested more treatment centers with trained professionals who have the compassion and capability to help those who have mental illnesses or are dealing with drug and alcohol abuse and are a danger to themselves and to others.
It was comforting to know that people in a position of power are trying to make a positive difference in the world. I'm hoping Councilmember David Ryu and his team can implement the solutions this city needs to end its homeless crises, but I won't be sticking around to see it. For me, I don't have any other choice but to leave this place behind.
If you're experiencing violence in your community due to homelessness, I urge you to contact your city mayor or councilmembers with similar requests. They'll listen to you, and your stories will make a difference in what laws get passed in the future.
Be well, and stay safe.