Homelessness is a hot-button issue in the United States, and one of the major stages for the issue is Los Angeles.
The Los Angeles City Council proposed in August to restrict homeless people from sleeping within 500 feet of schools, parks, homeless shelters, bicycle paths, daycare centers, tunnels or bridges on school routes, according to CBS Los Angeles. A project by the LA Times reveals that 14 percent of the area in Westchester and 46 percent of the area in Skid Row would be subject to this ban.
This proposal is a blatant attempt at withholding help from the most vulnerable people in our city. Instead of offering them a solution, the City Council took away where they could rest.
If we're going to solve homelessness in Los Angeles, we can't just push it out of the way — we need to confront it head on as a community.
It's been dispiriting to see the discourse around how to tackle homelessness turn so toxic.
On one extreme end, there's the prevalence of Not In My Backyard (NIMBY) groups that stop projects that could have helped the fight for affordable housing. The group Fix the City filed a lawsuit against the city of Los Angeles for setting up a new high-density housing project along public transit corridors as part of the Transit-Oriented Communities incentive, according to the LA Times editorial board.
I've written previously in the Loyolan how high-density housing is a net good, providing new homes for many people in need while being environmentally friendly, so seeing a group like Fix the City work to deny this housing from happening while thousands can't find a place to sleep is infuriating.
On the other extreme, there's what happened just this week: LA City Controller Ron Galperin tweeted out pictures showing how PodShare, a community housing company, could introduce new ideas on how to solve the housing crisis in the city. In response, over 2,000 people bombarded the tweet with angry anti-capitalist comments demanding rent control and, in one case, posting an animated gif of a guillotine.
None of this rhetoric is going to convince politicians to take your position seriously; it's just empty screaming.
Homelessness is not a blue-and-red problem that needs pundits and partisanship. It needs to be a collaborative effort of experimenting with new housing solutions and a vision to invest opportunities in the community for homeless people.
Here on campus, there are many ways students can get involved. MAGIS, for instance, is an all-male service organization at LMU that's dedicated to issues of homelessness and education. Its annual Homelessness Understanding Week, which takes place this year between Sept. 30 and Oct. 6, is a great chance for students to take part in advocacy events and gain a real understanding of the lives impacted by homelessness.
MAGIS also works with service placements, like Safe Place for Youth, an organization that helps homeless young people find security and resources in education, arts, health and much more. Students can volunteer for SPY, or they can look up other organizations in the area that do similar work.
If you plan on talking to politicians, don't screech at them over Twitter. Go to city and neighborhood council meetings and present your issues directly to the people in charge. You can bring friends and other local activists to have strength in numbers and give credence to undiscussed ideas.
The only way we can solve homelessness is with concerned effort, hard work, good ideas and a cooperative spirit. It's time we stand up as a community and solve it together.
This is the opinion of Cristobal Spielmann, a sophomore environmental science major from Brentwood, Tennessee. Tweet comments @LALoyolan or email firstname.lastname@example.org.