By JAMIE YUCCAS
Los Angeles — From the manicured streets of Beverly Hills to the sands of Venice Beach, to downtown’s notorious Skid Row, the latest count shows nearly 60,000 people are now homeless in Los Angeles County.
Tents and makeshift shelters are popping up everywhere. More than 11,000 people now live in them, including Gary Simmons. The 24-year-old pitches a tent each night to sleep.
“There’s no way out of this. If I can’t find a job, if I can’t find a place to live, how exactly am I going to pull myself out of this hole,” he said.
That’s the question many are asking. Los Angeles residents need to earn nearly $50 an hour just to afford the median monthly rent of $2,471, according to the California Housing Partnership Coalition.
County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas is battling what he has called a state of emergency. Last year, as thousands found a home, even more fell into homelessness. “You can’t underestimate the force of poverty,” he said.
Single dad Jess Fernandez and his 11-year-old daughter, Alice are homeless for the first time. So they’ve been staying at Skid Row’s Union Rescue Mission since March, while saving for an apartment. For now, Alice shares a bunk bed with her dad in a space that holds three other families.
“We know we have a place to stay, but it’s just more of a struggle,” Alice said.
Jess Fernandez hopes he and Alice will be in their own place by the end of the year.