Why has there been such an explosion in crime in Los Angeles over 2015? One friend says it is because of Prop 47 and AB109.
Paul Ciotti: “Part of the crime problem comes from the sudden immigration of all the Mara Salvatrucha “children” of last year. Now that they’ve set up their territories and got their guns they are ready to do what gangs always do–rob, assault and kill people. But i think even more crime is caused by people who have internalized Obama’s attitude–it’s not your fault when you commit a crime. It’s really white racism, institutionalized microaggressons and the vestiges of Jim Crow.”
Steven Ben-Off Abrams: “I just think LA’s getting more “third world”-ified. People living in parked vans and RVs, and people living in favela-like shanty dweller zones. The authorities don’t dare interfere or crack down, as they once would have. It’s become an accepted thing for people here in the US to live that way and I think third world lawlessness and social divisions are becoming established in this country, where before they weren’t acceptable.”
I hear that the Vice squad of the LAPD has been cleaning up Venice and they are now heading to Crestview (Robertson Blvd east to Fairfax, from Pico Blvd south to Cadillac).
I suspect Mafia neighborhood and gang infested neighborhoods don’t have many homeless. Santa Monica has reduced its homeless. Beverly Hills has few homeless.
Beverly Hills doesn’t have many homeless people — roughly 30, give or take. But the ones it does have are stubbornly inclined to stay right where they are, living in their own minds and on their own terms, practically in the shadow of multimillion-dollar mansions.
“It’s safe,” said Jim Latta, the city’s human services administrator, who knows every one of the city’s homeless people by name. People living on the streets don’t have to watch their backs the way they would on skid row or in Venice.
Kevin Conner, an outreach worker, offered another explanation as well.
“The residents of Beverly Hills give to the homeless,” Conner said.
Amy backed him up on that. She lives on a bench in the park that runs along Santa Monica Boulevard, and when I asked how she gets by, she pointed to the nearby church.
“I stand against that wall during Sunday Mass,” said Amy, a senior citizen. When Mass lets out, parishioners — lifted by the spirit — reach into their pockets. Amy said she makes enough to hop on a bus and go to the Farmer’s Market at 3rd and Fairfax, where she does her shopping.
But Conner said that only makes his job harder.
“If a parishioner gives her everything she needs, she doesn’t need me,” he said. Which is why he hands donors a card that says, “Positive Change, Not Spare Change,” and, “Please give to a charity, not a panhandler.”
It’s not as if City Hall doesn’t get complaints about homeless people from merchants and residents. But most of the gripes are about panhandlers, many of whom don’t live in Beverly Hills but drift in to tap locals and tourists.
The city banned so-called aggressive panhandling. But five years ago, it hired Step Up On Second, a Santa Monica nonprofit, to help look after homeless people and try to steer them into services. Only four people have been permanently housed in that effort, but many others have been cared for at least temporarily at People Assisting the Homeless, a Hollywood nonprofit that provides six beds nightly for Beverly Hills’ street dwellers.
That might make it sound as though the goal is to push the homeless beyond the borders of Beverly Hills, and I’m not holding my breath waiting for the city to open a Step Up On Rodeo. But after a day of making the rounds with Latta and the Step Up outreach team — Conner and his partner Annie Boyd — it looked to me as though the goal is to make regular contact with a very sick population, earn some trust and jump on any opportunity to offer life-changing help.
Latta said that when he speaks to local groups about his work, he points out that his subjects are a little harder to help than Nick Nolte’s lovable vagabond character in the movie “Down and Out in Beverly Hills.” That chap ends up sleeping with the maid of a rich, dysfunctional family and enjoying the city’s fine dining. Latta’s people, meanwhile — like many entrenched street dwellers in any community — are fighting severe mental illness and barely hanging on. Some of them tip a bottle to ward off waves of despair, only to sink further into the depths.
Latta, a career mental health and social worker, keeps a photo of a guy named Al in his office. Al was a steady, benign presence near the Gap store on North Beverly. Though he didn’t ask for money, passersby gave him enough to survive despite mental and physical illness, and he resisted efforts by the outreach team to get him treated and housed. By night, he lived behind a dumpster in an alley with the blessing of a merchant, until he became so physically ill that he finally agreed to go to a hospital. A few days after being admitted, he was dead.