Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas calls for action for people to come together and make a difference in problems that impact California.

Hundreds of people gathered on Saturday to discuss issues that impact the community during the Annual Empowerment Congress led by Los Angeles County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas.

In its 28th edition, the summit called “Communities in danger: a call to action for 2020 and beyond”, focused mainly on the issue of the homeless among other topics.

Following the executive order of California Governor Gavin Newsom, his proposed state budget of $ 1.4 billion to address homelessness, which is complemented by a comprehensive response strategy from a Council of Regional Advisors, Supervisor Ridley- Thomas and other local and state leaders called on all communities to unite in the fight against what is now known as a humanitarian crisis.

Supervisor Ridley-Thomas said that unfortunately for every 133 people who save themselves from the streets and get them a home, 150 more fall into indigence daily.

"It's time to get busy, what we do is work double, we do more, not less because this is a call for action," said Ridley-Thomas.

The councilwoman and president of the Los Angeles council, Nury Martínez, said that today it is not enough for many people to have two jobs or work seven days a week to have enough to pay for expenses at the end of the month.

"And many families and neighborhoods are falling behind, so when we talk about the homeless crisis it is important to mention that it is disproportionately affecting African-American and Latino communities," Martinez said.

Frank Ybarra, of Mexican roots, said he lived on the streets for three years after losing everything because of his bad economy. He remembers navigating a very difficult system to get the help needed to get out of the streets. Initially they did not believe him that he was destitute and thought that he was going to commit fraud.

Frank Ybarra (d) managed to get out of destitution after living on the streets for three years. (Jacqueline García / The Opinion)

“Everyone needs a home, nobody wants to be homeless for pleasure,” said Ybarra, who eventually managed to get the help needed to have a stable home and rejoin society.

Ybarra said that among Latinos it becomes even more difficult to accept the situation of destitution and refuse to ask for the necessary help, which makes them "hidden homeless."

“Many work, but they have their children living in cars and finding a home is difficult,” said Ybarra. "It's so embarrassing that many people don't even seek help because of the negative stigma that this brings."

Ridley-Thomas asked that the call for help come from all fronts, either by volunteering, partnering with organizations or participating in events that raise awareness and morals.

"This is not simply an aspiration, but an obligation," said the Los Angeles County District 2 Supervisor, which includes the cities of Carson, Compton, Culver City, Gardena, Hawthorne, Inglewood, Lawndale, LA City, Lynwood and unincorporated areas.

"Don't let anyone tell you that the homeless don't want a home … and those who say they don't want just need more love, understanding and intervention."


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