Living on the Street in Los Angeles

On the Streets – Los Angeles

Los Angeles Times (2016)

Film Review

This is one of the better documentaries I’ve seen on homelessness. Based on a 2016 LA Times survey, it mainly focuses on high functioning homeless people, many of whom hold full time jobs.

According to the survey, in 2016 there were 44,000 homeless people in LA county. The survey mapped their location and whether they were living rough or in tents, camper vans or cars. The number of homeless living in vehicles doubled between 2015 and 2016.

It’s common for women in tents to cluster in “family” groups for security. The filmmakers interview a Skid Row cop who monitors the welfare of homeless people on his beat. He talks about a big increase in rapes, robbery, assaults and sex trafficking – due to criminals who prey on the homeless.

For me, the most interesting part of the film is an interview with a UCLA graduate student who lives in his car and is working with other homeless UCLA students to establish a youth homeless shelter. In the US, roughly 56,000 university students are homeless.

10 thoughts on “Living on the Street in Los Angeles

  1. I watched the video in its entirety and I must admit, it was extremely hard to do so even though I have volunteered helping the homeless, extensively. And the people I drive around to get their groceries, pick up their children, take to doctor’s appointments and the list is endless are almost just as pitiful.

    My sadness was filled to overflowing when they spoke of a 76-year old woman who “died like she was just an animal” and was found in the garbage. That was just unspeakable! These atrocities are why this shithole is going to the dogs and why this so-called ‘Empire’ is in decline.

    People just want to live, free from the stress of being hounded by the police all the time for something they have no control over. And the homeless are not just poor whites and Black people, but are also college graduates and people who are working but their paltry wages are too low to afford them a place to live. Latinos were interviewed, an Asian man was living out of his vehicle. All demographics were represented in this video which only goes to show that no one is immune to homelessness. How most of these people handled their situation is just unbelievable. Many still managed to have a sense of humor. They also had a sense of fellowship and looked out for one another. And what was also sad is that the majority of them had seen the inside of a prison cell.

    There was even a group who had formed their own city and named it “Slab City.” And the residents were from everywhere including Wales.

    But what spoke volumes was what a homeless man named Pepper had to say when they were wrapping up the video. He said:

    “It’s not what you got, it’s what’s inside and how you use it.” – Pepper

    Sadly, those who could do something about the plight of these people are hollow inside and so have nothing to use.

    Thank you Dr. Bramhall for posting this because the face of homelessness should not just be a Thanksgiving thing or a Christmas Salvation Army bell ringing thing, but should be ‘in our face’ year round because it needs to be eradicated. And Sam is right, the homeless are sadly, woefully undercounted.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, Shelby, this also impressed me – the way the film helped us get to know homeless people as competent intelligent individuals. I was also heartened to see efforts by homeless people to self-organize and look out for one another. I’m aware how cities go out of their way to break up tent cities because they for sure don’t want homeless people organizing together to lobby for their rights.

      It’s sad to look back to the 60s and 70s when homelessness was virtually unknown. I and my friends were quite shocked when large numbers of people started living on the streets in the 80s when Reagan first started cutting back social services. Now growing homelessness is taken as a fact of life.

      Thanks for reblogging the post.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Reblogged this on shelbycourtland and commented:
    While you were out busting heads for deep discounts, there were those who are homeless through no fault of their own getting arrested because they cannot loiter. Women were getting raped simply because they were homeless and unprotected. Men were getting thrown into jail for being homeless as well as women.

    But what is a sad ass fact is that many homeless people have more heart and soul and giving and caring natures than the shits who were trampling and shooting each other at the few remaining open malls.

    The accompanying video is extremely hard to watch, but I managed to get through it and it sickened me that even though this is still the richest country on the planet, people have to live like this while others settle down in mansions and drive huge SUVs next door to the goddamn store. You shameless shits! Spend a fucking night outside and not just because you are camping out waiting on Apple to send the latest iPhone down the goddamn pike! Go to a homeless shelter where you’ll find real humans and not just automatons which is what most of you are!

    A homeless man told the goddamn truth when he said,

    “It’s not what you got, it’s what’s inside and how you use it.”

    What the hell do YOU have inside???


  3. Dr. Bramhall, thanks for sharing this video. It was heartbreaking to watch. How blessed I am to have a comfortable home! Though I live in LA and am familiar with many of the featured locations, I was unaware of the documentary.

    These days, the homeless are visible everywhere in my neighborhood. During the daytime, I’ve found a man sleeping on the ground in our enclosed dumpster area. Early one morning, the manager of our apartment complex found a woman sleeping in our laundry room.

    A young man interviewed, who has a job but lives in his car with two others because he cannot afford housing, sums up the situation well: “I’m living a dying dream.”

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I’m glad you enjoyed it, Rosaliene. Homelessness is also a big problem in New Zealand – even in tiny New Plymouth (population 55,000). We have one homeless shelter for men but none for women. Some are lucky to have cars to sleep in. Others walk the street all night and go to the library during the day to sleep.


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