LA’s Rich are Getting Richer and Our Poor are Getting Poorer

rich
anarchosyn's photo used through Creative Commons license

LA Observed pointed out yesterday the sad contrast between two recent reports, one which identifies a substantial increase in the number of “high net worth individuals” in LA–people so important they have their own acronym (HNWI)–and the other that gives an overview of the growing demand on LA county food pantries. A number of reports about the economic recovery have claimed that job regrowth has mostly been in low paid and unskilled jobs, and perhaps LA is seeing the effects of that trend.

The number of people accessing food pantries has increased 73% since 2008 while the amount of funds and food supplies are not keeping pace, and in some cases are decreasing (take the LA food bank, which is receiving 800,000 pounds less a month from the USDA than it was at the start of 2011.

At the same time, the number of people whose “investable assets” exceeded one million dollars increased 8.8% over last year. Only Houston saw a higher increase. So if you’re one of the many who feel like the middle is getting squeezed right now and there are more and more people living in one extreme or the other, you may well be right. It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…. And people wonder why I persist in calling myself a leftist.

We’re Number Ten: Racial Segregation in LA

It may come as little surprise to many of you that Los Angeles is one of the ten most segregated large urban areas in the United States. With a segregation level of 67.84 (where “1” is the most integrated and “100” is the most segregated), LA is only marginally less segregated than the City of Brotherly Love which weighs in at 68.41 or Cincinatti at 69.42.

Map by John Paul DeWitt of CensusScope.org and U Michigan’s Social Science Data Analysis Network

Continue reading “We’re Number Ten: Racial Segregation in LA”

Songs about Los Angeles: Fuck Tha Police by NWA

OK, so Compton isn’t actually Los Angeles, but then neither is Beverly Hills which is widely featured in other songs of this series. Perhaps the series title refers to the county rather than the city. In any case, there is a striking lacuna of songs south of I-10, let alone south of I-105.  And South Central is even in the city proper.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ro08bILEvqc[/youtube]

Police brutality and police corruption is certainly not a distinguishing feature of Los Angeles, per se.  Other American, and worldwide, cities have more than their share of it.  But few other places can match the breadth, scope, or duration of persistent abuse, and its incendiary results, that our city has managed, from the 1943 Zoot Suit Riots, to the 1965 Watts Riots, to the 1992 Rodney King uprising, to the long-standing, systematically brutal Rampart Division, to the 2007 Police riot in McArthur park.  Sure, Hollywood’s culture industry is venal, and the plastic people of Melrose and Ventura Avenues are trite and foolish; but it is the century long culture of official violence that has shaped the city more fundamentally.

Continue reading “Songs about Los Angeles: Fuck Tha Police by NWA”

It’s Not a Crime to be Poor: More on LA’s Homeless

Home is where the tarp is
Home is where the tarp is

Since yesterday’s post on the rise in homeless families, I’ve received a host of emails, tweets, and comments offering various resources and links. Most immediately, Union Rescue Mission is trying to combat a hostile press and public in Burbank and Glendale. It seems the mission has had a hard time providing services in Burbank because of a hostile public reception. Some connected Burbankians (connected to the city council and the press) claim that the shelter serves drug addicts, sex offenders, and criminals, and they would like the shelter guests find somewhere else to be impoverished .

The Rescue Mission is calling for interested Burbank citizens to show up:

Thursday, March 19 to the Burbank Fire Training Center Meeting Room, 1845 N. Ontario Street, Burbank, 6:30 to 9:00 p.m. to speak up for a local solution to the homelessness faced by many in the Burbank area.

Continue reading “It’s Not a Crime to be Poor: More on LA’s Homeless”

Down and Out in Sherman Oaks: LA’s growing homeless problem

american-dreamThis morning, the sheriff came to serve eviction papers to my neighbor. She’d been expecting them. She is a photographer and hasn’t been getting enough work to pay her rent. She has been planning to move back to the east coast and live with family. In the meantime, she’s been waiting out the sheriff, selling what she can, and putting the rest of her things in storage. My building has fifteen units and this is the third such eviction in six months.

Less than an hour later, thanks to @jasonburns Twitter feed, I was reading about the 1 in 50 US kids who are homeless as of 2006. Certainly those numbers are far worse now. I know I pass more and more homeless people camped under the bridges on my way to work every week. On my way to the polls on election day in September, I passed a couple transporting all their worldy goods in two shopping carts down the side of Nordhoff Street, each of them held a child’s hand as they carefully wheeled their two brimming carts down the sidewalkless stretch of road. No one is bailing them out.  Continue reading “Down and Out in Sherman Oaks: LA’s growing homeless problem”

The silver lining in the housing crisis

800px-soviet_apartment2As surely as many bad things pertain to our current global depression, it has had a twofold benefit for me personally. Mind you, I am little fond of the decimation of my retirement accounts or the continuing unemployment of my significant other. Still, I am a renter in L.A., and one has to see some redemption in the free-fall of rental prices (even if they are not, perhaps, quite so rapid as those of underlying property values).

I just moved to a new apartment a few days ago. As with most moves, it was accompanied by endless fretting over finding just the right place, with advantages and drawbacks of each one. Quite a few candidates went through the mill, in various neighborhoods (but generally roughly West Side). The ultimate result was renting a Fairfax District place, 400 feet away from our prior apartment… Continue reading “The silver lining in the housing crisis”