L.A. Addresses its Growing Homeless Population by Making it Harder for Them to Eat

Forced onto the street by decreased public spending, a poor economy and congested prisons, L.A.'s homeless population surged by 27 percent last year. Tensions are growing between those trying to help and those uncomfortable with the inundation.
November 28, 2013, 5am PST | Jonathan Nettler | @nettsj
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On a day many Americans will be stuffing their faces with turkey and all the trimmings, and giving thanks for their good fortune, consider the plight of those who have to struggle to find every meal. In Los Angeles, this daily struggle has become the impetus for a battle over public space between those who feed the city's growing homeless population and the homeowners and elected representatives who see such efforts as a nuisance. 

"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," reports Adam Nagourney. "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."

“While it sounds good in concept — I’m going to pull up to a curb, I’m going to feed people, I’m going to clean up and I’m going to leave — well, there are not restrooms,” said Peter Nichols, the founder of the Melrose Action Neighborhood Watch, about efforts by the Greater West Hollywood Food Coalition to deliver meals on a local street corner. “Can these people get a place to sleep? To clean up? We want there to be after-care provided every day they do the program. But they don’t and they can’t.”

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Published on Monday, November 25, 2013 in The New York Times
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