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Homeless in Paradise

Updated: Jul 1, 2020

When I started writing City of Angles, the homeless population in Los Angeles County was about 47,000, according to the county's annual homelessness count. It's now at 66,000 and still growing.

In my city, Pasadena, the organization that has done more than any to raise awareness of homelessness, and serve the homeless community here, is Union Station Homeless Services. My wife and I and our two adult children have contributed money and volunteered at both its Family Center and its Adult Center. The work of the staff borders on the heroic. Meeting the clients face-to-face who just need a meal or a place to get out of the rain for a while changes your perception of them; most of us, most of the time, tend to look past them on their street corners or huddled under their blankets in parks or sidewalk.

If you want to help in Pasadena, you can start here: Or, contact similar agencies in your community.

Good people doing good work:

I recently attended a book reading and signing at Vroman's, my local independent book store, by Conor Dougherty, the New York Times reporter whose Golden Gates: Fighting for Housing in America is an eye-popping expose of the long-running public policy decisions and powerful NIMBY sentiments that have helped create California's housing crisis, which also happens to be a major driver of growing homelessness.

The homelessness crisis is enormous, but there are many advocacy groups working on solutions and assistance in addition to government agencies, which are often swamped by lack of resources. Everyone In is a coalition of volunteers and foundations organized by the United Way and working with the City and County of LA to end the housing crisis.

The Los Angeles Mission is one of several religious organizations working directly with the homeless population in L.A.

A grim reminder of the coming disaster from Covid-19 in the nation's homeless communities,

One way to help:

Imagine how bad this tally is going to get in the coming months, maybe years, as the virus and its economic impact ravage those at risk of becoming homeless. And not just in LA.

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