The Savage Nation

The LA Times: How can a place with 58,000 homeless people continue to function?


Homelessness affects the lives of all Angelenos, not just those forced to live on the streets. And it does so almost daily, in ways large and small.

Consider the pairs of thick gloves that George Abou-Daoud has stashed inside the nine restaurants he owns on the east side of Hollywood. When a homeless person accosts his customers, Abou-Daoud says, he can no longer count on the police for help; unless there’s an imminent threat to safety, he contends, they don’t respond quickly and can’t just haul the person away. So he’s had to take matters into his own hands, literally, by physically ejecting problematic homeless people himself. That’s why he has the gloves — to keep his hands clean.

Abou-Daoud’s gloves are a particularly bleak symbol of the relationship between the homeless and the non-homeless. But everyone’s got a story of one sort or another. Day in and day out, Metro riders step into trains with homeless people on them — often visibly disturbed or threatening, prompting nervous passengers to edge away or change cars. In downtown L.A., shop owners worry that customers will opt for suburban malls to avoid the panhandlers and glassy-eyed wanderers. In Venice, besieged businesses have banded together to share the cost of security guards and cleanup crews to clear garbage, bedding or worse from the sidewalks.

Read more at the LA Times