They began showing up at dusk last week, wandering the streets, slumped in wheelchairs and sitting on sidewalks, paper plates perched on their knees. By 6:30 p.m., more than 100 homeless people had lined up at a barren corner in Hollywood, drawn by free meals handed out from the back of a truck every night by volunteers.
But these days, 27 years after the Greater West Hollywood Food Coalition began feeding people in a county that has one of the worst homeless problems in the nation, the charity is under fire, a flashpoint in the national debate over the homeless and the programs that serve them.
Facing an uproar from homeowners, two members of the Los Angeles City Council have called for the city to follow the lead of dozens of other communities and ban the feeding of homeless people in public spaces.
Should Los Angeles enact such an ordinance, it would join a roster of more than 30 cities, including Philadelphia, Raleigh, N.C., Seattle and Orlando, Fla., that have adopted or debated some form of legislation intended to restrict the public feeding of the homeless, according to the National Coalition of the Homeless.
There are now about 57,735 homeless people in Los Angeles County, according to the 2013 Annual Homeless Assessment Report released by the Department of Housing and Urban Development last week, a 23.5 percent increase over last year. Only New York had a higher homeless population.
Bloomberg, the 13th richest person in the world, also tried to implement a policy that require the homeless to prove they had no where else to go before being accepted into a shelter. Fortunately, a judge struck down the decision.
This country is disgusting! People need to take action and not allow this to happen in a city like Los Angeles… it is crucial that people work together to end homelessness rather than abandon a huge population of humans that matter just as much as we do.
Amanda and her cousin Amy by Mary Ellen Mark North Carolina, USA, 1990
In 1990, Peter Howe at Life magazine sent me to North Carolina to photograph a special school for children with problems. The school was a very strange place because all of the twenty or so children were in the same classroom and their problems ranged from mild behavior instability to severe schizophrenia.
Nine-year-old Amanda was the most interesting child in the class. She was my favorite child. Amanda was very intelligent and very naughty. One day I followed her home on the school bus. When the bus stopped at her house, she dashed ahead of me and ran into a nearby wooded area. I continued to follow her into the woods and eventually found her sitting in an old stuffed chair having a cigarette. She thought that I would reprimand her since I was an adult. But I said nothing.
The following Sunday, I spent the day at home with Amanda and her mother. Amanda totally controlled her mother. She constantly gave her orders and proceeded to put on her mother’s nail polish and makeup. Amanda smoked openly in front of her. Her 8-year-old cousin Amy was coming over, and she was very excited. All day long, Amanda and her cousin played like children. Every forty-five minutes or so, Amanda would take a break to have a cigarette. Her mother could say nothing; Amanda was the boss.
Just before I left, I looked for Amanda to say good-bye. I found her and Amy in the backyard. They were in a children’s inflatable pool. Amanda was taking her regular cigarette break.
woahh, love this.. i want to see more photographs of the school…
“There is no designated time for anything in your life. You don’t have to have your first kiss at any certain time, you don’t have to get married in your 20′s and you don’t have to do anything just because other people think it’s best. In fact, you will be much better off if you just do what your heart says. The day you stop caring what other people think is the day their opinions don’t mean anything, because you’re not there to give them weight.” - Follow @kevinferere