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The Sounds, the Smells and the Images of Homelessness


Images from Skid Row in Los Angeles California

     As I entered the Chapel at Los Angeles Mission, the speaker was already speaking. He was blaming the politicians for failed policies and for ignoring the issue. He was blaming the family and friends of homeless folks for ignoring them when they were hurting and, the list of those who he blamed, grew bigger. He was good and correct in partially explaining why the problem of homelessness in Los Angeles exist. However, The sound, the smell and the images of poverty in the streets of Downtown, Los Angeles are the same as everywhere; in some places more and in some places less.

“In 2017, the United States homeless population was estimated to include 553,742        people on any given night. This number includes adults and veterans living on the streets, as well as children and families living in shelters. Overall, homelessness in America has decreased by 13% from 2010 to 2017, but the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development believe a substantial amount of work still remains in order to eradicate the epidemic. From a nationwide standpoint, these 15 cities have the most homeless people in America.”[1]

10. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

9. Boston, Massachusetts

8. Las Vegas, Nevada

7. San Francisco, California

6. San Jose, California

5. District of Columbia

4. San Diego, California

3. Seattle, Washington

2. Los Angeles, California

1. New York City, New York

Other smaller cities with alarming homeless populations include:

5. Santa Rosa, California

4. Salinas, California

3. Huntington, New York

2. Santa Ana, California

1. Honolulu, Hawaii

     Maybe the speaker has a point in blaming the politicians; after all, all of these cities have something in common; they are all democrats and their states are historically democrat. These cities have been infected by liberalism. These liberal and progressive policies do not work against homelessness, but seems to be a magnet for it? They have a solid track record of failure.

     As representatives from over 40 Christian mission around the USA and Canada gathered for our Annual CityGate Conference,  we took that short walk from Los Angeles Mission to the Union Rescue Mission. As we walked through the famous Skid Row, we heard the profanity and the loud voices. You could feel the intimidation. There was trash everywhere and the smell of urine and human feces. I saw a man calmly turning his back, as we were passing by and, right on the sidewalk, he started urinating against a building. No shame and no concern. I saw people everywhere, massive amount of people; heavy traffic, people blowing their car horns; everybody in a hurry to go somewhere. I saw this woman yelling and accusing the white folks in our group of thinking that they were better than anybody; a cry for social justice… I guess!



Images from Skid Row in Los Angeles, California

     I am sure everybody has their story; I am sure you can’t paint everybody with the same brush. I don’t want to be insensitive; but I heard another speaker stating that at the core of homelessness is people that can’t afford housing. Even as we must take a close look at these liberal agendas and, even as we could take a closer look at the cost of housing; at the core of homelessness there are bigger and deeper issues.

     At the core of homelessness there are many broken relationships, many broken bridges, many opportunities given, many opportunities wasted and, countless times using, manipulating and abusing those opportunities. At the core of homelessness there are demonic belief systems, and mindsets that lead to destruction. At the core of homelessness there is sin, transgressions, iniquities and curses. At the core of homelessness there are traumatic experiences, physical abuse, neglect, abandonment, tragedy and the lack of preparation for the unexpected crisis of life.

     I have seen poverty before; no greater poverty than what I saw in Mexico; but poverty here in the USA is different. Even at Skid Row folks do not go hungry; these missions are there for them, to feed them every single day. In Los Angeles and around this nation, it seems like the homeless population still have enough physical energy to engage in violence. My co-workers from Fairbanks, witnessed a man getting beaten up and strip of his clothing while people just watched casually, as if this is a normal thing to see.

     In conclusion, we may not have all of the facts of the why of homelessness, but I have no doubt in my heart that the solution is Christ. That’s where I agree with the Los Angeles and the Union Missions; they get it! They seem to understand that God MUST be at the center of this impossible and overwhelming task. May the Lord continue to bless them for their work and may the truth, love, compassion and power of Christ be manifested in all rescue missions around the world.


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