Dirty Dozen Meanest Cities in the US
The National Coalition for the Homeless has been shocked by the number of cities engaged in raiding encampments of people who are otherwise unhoused, throwing away valuables (medications, food, personal or historical papers) of those without anywhere else to go. In response to the pandemic, and efforts to reduce COVID spread in crowded emergency shelters, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) asked cities to hold off enforcing anti-camping ordinances. There continue to be so many of us who do not feel safe going to a congregate living facility. Unfortunately, most available shelter continues to be in large congregate settings, especially as emergency hotel rooms are closing. People who were or are becoming priced out of their housing are having to choose between crowded shelters or sleeping outdoors. Unfortunately, most cities disregarded the advice of the CDC and began arresting and moving people out of sight in late 2020. This escalated in 2021 and today NCH has documented at least 66 cities or counties sending police/sheriff deputies out to arrest and harass those who have no other viable housing options. NCH has studied many of these localities and has come up with a Dirty Dozen, based also on discussions with advocates and people experiencing homelessness from around the country. Each one of the Dirty Dozen cities are regularly harassing those who stay outside and have been engaging in sweeps for over a year. Each one of these cities has a severe lack of affordable housing, including long waiting lists for subsidized housing, while rents and evictions are both on the rise. Every one of these cities has an inability to house everyone requesting assistance, even in emergency congregate facilities.
- Los Angeles CA: The scale is what puts LA as the meanest city in the US. Housing is so expensive in the city and many neighborhoods are forcing police actions against those who cannot afford the rents. Sweeps on Venice Beach in recent years have been especially brutal. Many gentrified neighborhoods in the city are demanding that law enforcement get people off the sidewalks. One of the first and largest sweeps in the LA region since the beginning of the pandemic took place in Echo Park. As a result of being displaced, a number of those who had formerly lived in the encampment community lost their lives, and only a few ever got into housing. Instead of learning from the Echo Park sweeps, Los Angeles City Council recently voted to prohibit lying, sleeping and storing property in public areas within 500 feet of schools and daycare centers, adding to the list of places where those who are unhoused cannot rest. From San Pedro to the West Valley to Hollywood and Downtown, the unhoused community is moved from neighborhood to neighborhood at a huge cost for the city, leaving less money for housing. Los Angeles is also home to the infamous Skid Row which is a symbol of neglect for the past 30 years. Every day, many of those ignored and forgotten by our society have identification, medicine, and blankets tossed into the trash by sanitation workers while being escorted away by police. The interviews that Invisible People (https://invisiblepeople.tv) conducts with those on the streets of LA are heartbreaking. Many have to start over because all of their valuables are tossed every two weeks. Los Angeles is the current Homeless Capital of the United States.