The unfortunate reality is that there are many stigmas attached to homelessness. Due to lack of adequate hygiene resources, one of them is uncleanliness, closing many doors for those who have already fallen on hard times. It can seem like there is no way out.
The People Concern believes that access to basic services are fundamental to living with dignity.
The dignity of using a restroom.
The dignity of having clean clothes to wear.
The dignity of being able to wash away the hardships of the day, even if only for a few hours.
It is because of this belief that the agency provides toilets, showers, and laundry facilities to our most vulnerable neighbors at two of our main service hubs: SHWASHLOCK (SHowersWASHersLOCKers) in Santa Monica and Operation Healthy Streets on Skid Row. There is a great need to serve the population in both of these communities as the gap grows between vulnerable individuals and access to basic services. …
On a balmy Wednesday afternoon at the corner of 5th and San Pedro, a crowd of people meander in front of shuttered warehouses, spilling into the streets. The uneven sidewalks are lined with streams of tents in various states of disrepair, occupied by individuals in various stages of vulnerability.
Whether jovial or aggressive, the sound of shouting is ever present. When so many people occupy a limited stretch of land, there is always friction.
As we pass more shuttered warehouses, the crowd starts to thin and the noise of shouting becomes distant. We’ve reached the bright yellow walls of The Village, an interim housing facility of The People Concern. There is a general understanding between the people on the streets and the staff of The Village that no unlawful activity occurs between the boundaries of those yellow walls. …
A public misconception is that solving homelessness is as simple as handing over the keys to an apartment and calling it a day. But when we discuss the most vulnerable in our communities, they are truly that — vulnerable. Experiencing homelessness leaves you vulnerable to the elements, to alienation, and to people making false promises. The need to approach all situations cautiously increases over time and the walls go up.
It’s about survival.
It’s no wonder that outreach workers with the best intentions of helping those living on the streets encounter vulnerable individuals who are highly reluctant to engage. Every interaction becomes part of a long process of slowly growing a relationship and chipping away at the walls that people have built to keep themselves safe. …