Patt Morrison for January 26, 2011

Homelessness in Los Angeles—Part One: the Safer City Initiative

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Eric Zassenhaus/KPCC

With over 40,000 homeless living on its streets, Los Angeles is the homeless capital of the country. Nearly four thousand of those homeless men and women live on Skid Row.

With over 40,000 homeless living on its streets, Los Angeles is the homeless capital of the country. The largest cluster of those homeless men and women—nearly four thousand—lives on Skid Row, just in the shadow of city hall, where city and county government make policy decisions about the issue. Nearly five years after Mayor Villaraigosa's ambitious Skid Row Safer City Initiative—the policing strategy that placed 50 additional officers in the fifty block area of downtown's Skid Row—we look back at whether or not it accomplished what it set out to and what is left to be done to address homeless issues downtown and throughout the county. We begin this two-part series on homelessness by tracing the SCI from its inception as an idea on the pages of 1982 Atlantic magazine, to the streets of Los Angeles. Did SCI deliver both the policing and social service components it promised, and was it the best use of resources? Is policing a necessary but insufficient part of the solution or just a way of criminalizing homelessness? You’ll hear from the people affected by it—police, policymakers, and the homeless themselves.

Guests:

James Q. Wilson, Senior Fellow at the Clough Center and Distinguished Scholar in Boston College’s Department of Political Science; with social scientist George Kelling, wrote the 1982 article Broken Windows for The Atlantic, which introduced the broken windows theory of policing, which would become Safer Cities. Deon Joseph, Senior Lead Officer, Los Angeles Police Department, Central Division General Dogan, Skid Row resident and activist with the Los Angeles Community Action Network (LACAN) Griselda Tapia, Officer, Los Angeles Police Department, Central Division Clinton Popham, Officer, Los Angeles Police Department, Central Division Gary Blasi, Professor of Law at the University of California Los Angeles Jan Perry, Councilwoman for the 9th District of Los Angeles, which includes the fifty blocks of Skid Row Estela Lopez, Executive Director, Central City East Association (CCEA), which represents the businesses in the area; the CCEA’s “initial mission was to protect the area from becoming the central location for the region’s homeless services.” Deon Joseph, Senior Lead Officer, Los Angeles Police Department, Central Division Steve Cooley, District Attorney, Los Angeles Carmen Trutanich, City Attorney, Los Angeles Gary Boatwright, homeless man Jerry Neuman, Home for Good Task Force Co-Chair representing the Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce

Video: Old Blu, LAPD's effort to reach out to homeless on Skid Row



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