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Thursday, April 3, 2008

“Sleepy Sidewalks” Reserved for Los Angeles Homeless

Not long ago, Kenneth Johnson, 29, lived in a West Los Angeles condominium with his wife and three children and earned $4,000 a month as a forklift operator. Now he is unemployed and divorced, and beds down each night on a grimy sidewalk in downtown’s 50-square-block Skid Row. Mr. Johnson made his way to Skid Row in downtown Los Angeles because of the ease in finding food, shelter and services there ranging from the Midnight Mission and Union Rescue Mission to Home Boy Industries and many others.

Since last October, there has been good news for Los Angeles homeless people and recently shared with us while passing out food and spiritual supplies on the streets in downtown. Homeless men and women are now allowed to sleep on sidewalks from 9PM until 6AM as long as they are not blocking doorways or driveways. Once the city of LA builds 1,250 housing units for the homeless they will again be able to enforce a 1968 ordinance banning sleeping on sidewalks. There are an estimated 73,000 to 93,000 homeless on the streets of LA depending on the report you peruse. Thus, 73, 000 homeless (using the lower of the two) will still be subject to tickets and arrests, if and when those 1,250 units are built.

For those unfamiliar with the issue, on October 10, 2007, a court found the city of Los Angeles guilty of cruel and unusual punishment, because people without homes can not be expected to walk 24 hours a day. The city of LA appealed the decision and this news is how the case was settled. For now, the homeless in LA have one less thing to worry about when they lay their heads down to sleep. The police can not wake them up to give them a ticket or tell them to find someplace else to sleep. For the time being, Los Angeles homeless can sleep a bit easier, if only they are able to get up and move on before 6AM without an alarm clock to wake them.

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