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 August 2007

The Los Angeles Mission is looking forward this Saturday (August 25) to our annual End of Summer Block Party where the children of Skid Row and their families can enjoy a time of fun and receive backpacks and school supplies.

The kids are feeling the blues about going back to school – so we want to encourage them. Education is so critical the children of this neighborhood. We support every effort to get and keep kids in good schools with all the support needed to help them graduate from High School. We salute all the efforts of our elected officials and those involved in education as together we find ways to create a better future for the children.

Parents, on the other hand, are thinking about parting with the gold needed to buy all the stuff needed to keep kids in school and ready to learn. Most of us parents complain about the cost of education but are fortune that we have resources to provide adequately for our kids. Not so most of the population of Skid Row and some other parts of the city.

So, Saturday because of the generosity of the people of Los Angeles we will share good times, backpacks and school supplies to all the kids who attend (even parents can have a tasty lunch). The Los Angeles Mission is pleased to provide hope for the future to children and their families.

For more about the End of Summer Block Party go to: www.losangelesmission.org.

–Herb Smith, President

Who doesn’t love New York, New York? The lights, the energy, the sense of global involvement and human potential.

Is Los Angeles moving towards that style? The map below shows the new “density” area where more is better and housing is king. But, housing for whom? I once wanted to live in New York when $2000 was the market rate for housing that went for a fraction elsewhere. My son informed me that is now the market price for a parking space. I guess even living in your car there is out of the question!

Seriously, I’m not for or against density in principle. I am however concerned how “affordable housing” is being used to justify this plan. There are, simply put, far more workers needing truly affordable housing than corporate captains and professionals who need to move downtown. Even “affordable” is a relative term. To a minimum wage earner nothing in LA now is “affordable.” Affordable is based upon an average income across the population. No offense, but the 90210 crowd tends to put a real upward curve in the average.

Ok, with sentiment such as “Ruiz, whose stepfather lives downtown and who has been coming into the neighborhood for more than 10 years, said she enjoyed the change.

"With the new buildings, there’s fewer bums," she said. "It’s just going to get cleaner and cleaner." the race for change is in full gear.

The horse may be out of the gate but he hasn’t left the track. What is it going to take to assure that during the next run at city hall we get the pay out we really need for affordable housing for everyone?

“Jane Blumenfeld, principal planner for the city, said the ordinance includes safeguards designed to prevent poor downtown residents from being pushed out by new development. Under the rules, developers must replace lost housing for the very poor — those who make less than 50% of the area’s median wage — with new units.

The council also voted Tuesday to closely track the number of affordable units built by developers taking advantage of the incentives. Proposed by Councilman Ed Reyes, the study will keep count of the new affordable units and provide a report to the council.”

Let’s hold the City Counsel to its word to count affordable units and more importantly to provide the support services to keep residents in the units with jobs, affordable health care and education.

In the meantime the Los Angeles Mission will continue to care for those with immediate needs and look for ways to help with more permanent solutions.

–Herb Smith, President

The Safer Cities Initiative continues to be rallying cry for some and blasphemy for others. As this article by Rick Orlov of the LA Daily News shows.

The reality of the situation — like so many things — is more likely somewhere between the two.

For those who tout success in order to keep funding alive, there is less crime, fewer hard core criminals and a bit of a “safer” attitude on the streets of Skid Row.

For the political Jan Perry’s of the world, reality is a double-edged sword. The more the area cleans up and new residents move in, the more pressure there is to rid the streets, alleys and parks of persons who don’t’ look too good or smell too well. Not to mention the boomer obsession for safety. I know Jan has to balance her true care for the homeless with political realities that keep her in office. We need more than “hope the second phase of the program will bring in more services to help the poor.” We need leadership that puts hope into action. I fully agree with Jan that “It seems to me it would be morally wrong to just leave people living on the streets. This way, at least, we are getting some of them the help they need.” But “some” needs to become “all.”

The ACLU chimes in with their usual lines saying that "It has been a complete fraud," thus full employment for the legal beagles and schizophrenia for the rest of us.

Don’t over look our Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa’s polished statement that “he is pleased with the program’s effect on reducing crime. But he agrees that more needs to be done to develop long-term solutions to the problems of the homeless.” Lesser men with his personal problems have ended up as guests at the mission!

Not to be overlooked are the business interests led by Estela Lopez, executive director of the Central City East Association. She said “We are not going to rest until we have reached every single person and get them off the street.” Question the motives if you will, but that is the desired business plan outcome. We all agree on the outcome, just not the ways and means of dealing with living, hurting human beings rather than widgets and bottom lines. We cannot write off these persons like some depreciable property. They have infinite value like that one non-depreciating asset — land. Lives are to be built upon, not ravaged. We need a green plan for human life as much as we need a green plan for global warming.

Enough summertime musing. Guess I’ll go down to the lobby and see the capacity crowd drawn in for a respite from the heat, a cup of water and most important to me: a brief glimmer of hope today rather than a promise for a better tomorrow that might never come in time to help them. The Los Angeles Mission is doing its part to make our little section of Skid Row a “safer” place for everyone in need.

–Herb Smith, President