About Us
The Los Angeles Mission is a non-profit homeless shelter serving the hungry and homeless of Downtown's Hope Central (historically referred to as Skid Row) for over 70 years.

Archive for December 2006

The LAPD is cracking down on all kinds of crime on Skid Row lately and that is good. One of the most recent stories is the arrest of shop owners who have been scanning food stamp cards and giving some cash to the holders, and then pocketing the rest.

The card holders then use the money for drugs or alcohol, stuff the cards weren’t designed to supply.

Then they come to the Mission seeking help or a meal, because their money – and government assistance – is gone.

We don’t turn away anyone seeking help, and we won’t unless they present a danger to others who are coming here for assistance. But… If they were using their government support for what it was intended, rather than feeding their addictions, they might more readily face the reality of their situation.

Once that happens, once someone realizes that the temporary fix isn’t fixing anything, then they are more likely to seek the help that will result in turning their life around.

You can’t force someone into successful rehab. But you can narrow their choices so that they seek the help they need.

That’s why drying up the sources and their resources for recreational drugs is important.

–Herb Smith, President

At the Los Angeles Mission you will often hear references to dignity and respect. We believe that when you treat a person with dignity and respect that it elevates them, and often give them a glimmer of how life can be when they have self-respect.

I recently wrote about Councilwoman Jan Perry talking about people not living on the streets of Skid Row, but rather dying on the street.

Everything was brought home by a story and an editorial in the LA Times about the annual burial of the unclaimed deceased in LA. More than 1,600 people we buried at one time with a modest ceremony and virtually no public attention. While I’m sure the “modest” ceremony was dignified, the deaths and burial of these humans – many homeless – certainly wasn’t.

Most funerals have some recognition of a person’s life, some memories shared, and their passing noted. Not these people. Sometimes only their name is known. Sometimes not even that.

We will all pass from this life to the next one. As Christians, we believe that life is everlasting, and we will spend eternity with our Savior. We respect our guests at the Mission enough to tell them that, and offer them the opportunity to accept it or not, it is their decision to make.

The time to show respect is not just in death. It is important, and the reason we exist, to show respect to people during their life. We believe it is the first step to redeeming a life from the streets of Skid Row.

–Herb Smith, President

The recent crackdown on garbage is long overdue in Skid Row. The comments in the LA Downtown News article blaming the homeless for this problem are silly. Yes, the homeless should know better, but they don’t! It’s like putting a drink in front of an alcoholic and getting upset when they get drunk! You need to remove the temptation to help bring about the desired results.

Businesses need to assume the social responsibility for disposing of their trash in an appropriate manner and many do their part. I’m sure Estella Lopez and the team at Central City East Association is capable of finding a solution that benefits the businesses, patrons and ultimately the homeless.

Here at the Los Angeles Mission we clean up our sidewalks and take care of our trash. I suggest others do the same. At the same time we will continue to provide services that will hopefully take people of out the cardboard and dumpsters and put them in a warm, safe dignified place to begin their recovery.

Cardboard is trash, human lives are not!

–Herb Smith, President