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The State of Skid Row

SKID ROW-In light of recent events, "We, the People of Skid Row" feel the need to speak out about what's happening in our community. 

With Skid Row commonly known as "the homeless capital of America," there are those of us who have been fighting against the system to improve the horrendous inhumane conditions that the United Nations identified as "worse" than third-world countries. Many of us have been on the frontlines fighting against these deplorable conditions for well over a decade. 

Fire Station #9 in Skid Row has been recognized as "the busiest fire station in the nation" for well over a decade. This speaks to the high-volume need for emergency medical services in Skid Row, yet FS9 significantly lacks the necessary additional resources as compared to FS15, FS82 and other two and three-storied spacious fire station buildings with state-of-the-art amenities. In comparison, FS#9 is a little old one-story garage. 

There is an obvious need to re-direct significant funding and resources to Skid Row's fire and emergency services. This would help decrease the constant burden on nearby hospital emergency room visits. 

Please note that even with FS9 being "the busiest" each year, what's not taken into account is that due to the aforementioned limited resources, many FS9 calls are outsourced to nearby departments like FS10, FS4 and FS3 to compile all this activity. FS9 stats contain utterly jaw-dropping data, to say the least. 

"We, the People of Skid Row" have been fighting against this flawed system for well over a decade.  

By now, everyone should be aware that a global pandemic is upon us and has been for several months. "We, the People of Skid Row" are extremely frustrated by the absence of a sense of urgency from our elected officials to lead us out of harm's way. This includes the failed leadership of LA City Councilmember Jose Huizar (who has represented Skid Row since 2005), as well as Mayor Eric Garcetti. While Huizar has been completely MIA, Garcetti has only sporadically showed up – and only as the result of a pending federal lawsuit which has already forced him to install dozens and dozens of port-a-potty toilets and hand-washing stations throughout Skid Row and other parts of the city where homelessness has encroached.  

Another City-provided "solution" to both the global pandemic and the federal lawsuit is Project Roomkey, in which homeless persons are moved into hotel and motel rooms. 

This is a perfect example of "the trickery" of politics. Both the State of California and the City of Los Angeles have separate solutions called Project Roomkey. When it's convenient, they each borrow the data from the other program to give "false-positive" indicators to imply the program's level of success.  

Even with that, no matter from which direction one looks at these "solutions," they are significantly underperforming. Each were announced as providing 15,000 hotel/motel rooms (which technically would be 30,000 total), but the actual numbers (combined) are 3,700 rooms that are currently filled statewide. No Skid Row-specific data exists or has been made available to us.  

"We, the People of Skid Row" have been fighting against this system since its inception. 

Now, our City Councilmember (Huizar) has been arrested on RICO Act charges. For those who don’t know, the RICO Act was created to combat against organized crime (think: the mafia). This type of criminal charge speaks to the high-level of corruption going on inside City Hall. This includes racketeering, money laundering, extortion, bribery and so much more. 

It's no wonder why "We, the People of Skid Row" never stood a chance to have any of our issues addressed. 

How can a community that is known as the homeless capital of America "pay-to-play"? How could "We, the People of Skid Row" compete with all the billionaire developers using their resources to push their development projects through the City Hall bureaucracy? Especially those focused on Downtown (DTLA)? And also, those planned for Skid Row? 

So it's quite obvious what "We, the People of Skid Row" were up against years ago when we attempted to create the Skid Row Neighborhood Council. While Huizar was smiling in our faces, saying he supported our grassroots effort, behind closed doors he was plotting against us. All because we didn’t pay-to-play. Wowzers. And we have receipts. 

The next man up for CD14 is former State Senator Kevin De Leon. He was the featured guest of our Skid Row Neighborhood Council-Formation Committee (SRNC-FC) meeting in November 2019. He has been supportive of our efforts for many years. There is a slight glimmer of newfound hope. 

Now that Skid Row is within his district, the spotlight is on him. And with the Feds still lurking in the shadows, creating a new political climate inside City Hall, "We, the People of Skid Row" are already considering all possible avenues to finally create our Skid Row Neighborhood Council. This would address community issues such as Firehouse 23 (more on that at a later time), keen oversight for Project Roomkey, the complete dissolving of DTLA 2040, and more. 

Last, what does #DefundThePolice look like to us in Skid Row? To start, with a current annual budget of $2 billion, there isn’t anything that LAPD can point to and say is working in any law enforcement capacity. And LAPD wants to increase its annual budget to $3 billion? Is this a joke? 

There's simply no way the LA City Council can justify increasing LAPD's budget -- especially as it pertains to homelessness and also as it pertains to Skid Row. There are areas of its funding which can, and should, be reduced, and then re-invested into our Skid Row community in more positive, healthier ways. 

"We, the People of Skid Row" have been fighting against this flawed system for over a decade. We are dying in these streets. We have no other choice but to keep fighting. 

Greed is omnipresent in Skid Row where the corrupt politicians and Poverty Pimps have left us for dead. 

Yet people keep pointing fingers at us as if we're in control. 

#WhatWouldHuizarDo? 

#SkidRowStrong 

#SkidRowNeighborhoodCouncil 

#SkidRowStillHere 

Visit our Skid Row Neighborhood Council- Formation Committee website

#SkidRowStillHere 

Twitter: @GoSkidRowGo
Instagram: @SkidRowGeneralJeff

Skid Row community activist-
ISSUES AND SOLUTIONS
(2007-present)

LA County-Appointed Official-
Consumer Representative on the inaugural LA County Health Agency Integration Advisory Board-
Selected by Mental Health Commission
(2015-2018)
Chair- LA County Health Agency IAB Subcommittee on Homelessness
(2015-2018)

Former Co-Chair- Skid Row Community Advisory Board for the
Department of Mental Health
(2012-2017)

Chair- "Skid Row Public Space Task Force"
(2012-present)

Chair- Skid Row Neighborhood Council- Formation Committee
(2014-present)

Former LA City-Elected Official (3 Two-Year Terms)
Resident Director- Central City East/Skid Row
Board of Directors
Downtown Los Angeles Neighborhood Council
(2008-2014)
Former VP, Outreach and Communications- DLANC
(2011-2012)

Former State-Appointed Official
California State Department of Public Health- Office of Health Equity-inaugural Advisory Committee Member
(2013-2015)

Co-Chair-"Skid Row Interagency Disaster Plan" Task Force
(2020-present)

 

(General Jeff -- Jeff Page -- is a homelessness activist and leader in Downtown Los Angeles. Jeff’s views are his own.) Edited for CityWatch by Linda Abrams.