Every little action, however minimal it may seem, can make a big difference in a person's life.
In the case of Vicky Vickers, a woman for whom, for years, the streets were her only refuge, the "little" action It came in the form of a bus trip and instructions to reach a homeless help center.
"For four and a half years I lived in the streets of Santa Monica, next to the library," Vickers shared, in an interview with The opinion. Vickers suffers from schizophrenia and years ago she ran out of the medication she needed and as a result she began to suffer hallucinations that eventually led to her becoming homeless.
“When I lived in the streets, a man approached me and gave me ‘tokens’ to travel by bus and instructions to get to ‘The People Concern’, ”Vickers recalled. The People Concern is a nonprofit organization in Los Angeles that offers integrated services to the most vulnerable members of the community who need help.
Vickers followed the advice of the good Samaritan and took the bus that would save his life. In the center he got a temporary bed and eventually managed to access an apartment where he has lived for eight years. Nowadays, Vickers has three jobs, as well as access to the medicine you need for its stability.
"I had lost any hope," Vicky recalled. Among the biggest challenges, he mentioned the constant and daily fear of attacks and sexual violence, the overwhelming feeling of vulnerability and hygiene. "It's impossible to be clean, stay clean."
It can happen to all of us
“I was an ordinary woman, like any other. I never imagined that I would end up in the street. But we all live on a paycheck for homelessness ”Vickers reflected.
“If each and every one of us did something for the homeless, the problem would not have this magnitude. Many times we look the other way, but doing so doesn't solve anything, ”he said, referring with gratitude to the stranger who saved his life.
"Housing is a fundamental right. It is horrible to live in the streets. The increase in affordable housing is the first step in combating this problem. With three jobs, even today, I could not afford an apartment, ”he confessed.
Evaluation of the population and their needs
This week, the Downtown Women's Center presented its Evaluation of the needs of women in the city of Los Angeles. The angel center is a non-profit organization focused specifically on the needs of homeless women.
Among the conclusions, the report found that almost 11,000 women live in the streets of the angel city. This is a 13% increase. in relation to the previous year.
Homelessness Disproportionately affects women of color. Among those who recently lost their home, 35.4% is Latino.
"Behind these numbers there are real people who are suffering," said supervisor Hilda Solis, during the presentation of the report.
The Supervisor highlighted from the report that the majority of women living on the streets are people over 50 years old; and recalled that the problem of homelessness is a problem for everyone, from government officials and residents, to merchants and entrepreneurs.
“These data should inspire us all to act and make use of our resources to ensure that these vulnerable women have access to comprehensive services and permanent housing,” added Solis.
2020 Census: Will they be counted?
California has the sad record of being the state with the largest number of homeless people in the country. According to estimates of 2018, around 130,000 people live on the streets and shelters of the "Golden State". But due to the difficulty of telling the homeless population this figure could be even higher.
Given the proximity of the National Census Bureau count, experts and activists highlight the importance of the homeless population being included, especially in states like California, with a high index of homeless people. Of not happeningCalifornians could lose federal funds and political representation, which in turn would affect low-income families, who most need such funds to pay for programs like Section 8, among many others.
It is precisely the vulnerable homeless population, One of the most difficult to tell. The Census Bureau will address the counting of this population as follows:
- On the one hand, Census workers will visit temporary housing, such as motels, recreational vehicle parks (RVs), and circuses, among many others.
- On the other hand, workers will count and interview homeless people in certain places, such as transitional shelters, under bridges, or in makeshift camps, among others.
In the last census of 2010, workers counted nearly 28,000 Californians who were in shelters and about 64,000 Californians living in the streets and in other community service centers.
In turn, the Census Bureau is working with local partners to identify the locations where to count the homeless population. The “New Construction” program will allow local governments to send information on new shelters and temporary housing that will be completed by April 1 of this year.
The Census Bureau invites people with experience and direct contact with the homeless population to seek employment as census workers, to help include that group in the count.
According to the Downtown Women´s Center report:
- Homeless women are frequent victims of gender violence. 60.2% of the interviewees said they had been victims of violence in the last year.
- The women of color They are disproportionately affected by homelessness. Among women who recently lost their homes, 35.4% is latin and 24.1% is African American.
- 35.7% of LGBTQ women interviewed reported having been the victim of sexual assault.
- The population of homeless women tends to be older than the general population of Los Angeles. Almost half of the respondents (48.9%) were over 51 years of age.
- 63.2% of women reported having visited an emergency room in the last year, which suggests the lack of access to a doctor or medical care.
- Women represent almost a third of the homeless population (18,337 or 31%).
- Increases in income, evictions and stagnant wages are the most decisive factors that lead women and their families to lose their homes.