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Living on the edge in the homeless encampments of LA

Credit: Reuters Studio
Published on November 4, 2019 - Duration: 02:43s

Living on the edge in the homeless encampments of LA

Only a fraction of the estimated 36,000 homeless in Los Angeles have been housed three years after voters in November 2016 approved a ballot measure that raised $1.2 billion to build housing for street denizens and poor people.

Yahaira Jacquez reports.

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Living on the edge in the homeless encampments of LA

These are the images alarming Los Angeles residents and officials: tents lining entire city blocks.

And it's no longer confined to the notorious Skid Row district, which has one of the highest concentrations of homeless people in the country.

The problem can now be seen across Los Angeles - from wealthy Bel-Air to working class San Pedro.

(SOUNDBITE) (English) KIMBERLY DECOURSEY, 37, WHO LIVES IN A SHELTER AND ON THE STREET, SAYING: "We're just people that lost our house or had bad circumstances." Kimberly Decoursey has been homeless on and off for much of her adult life.

(SOUNDBITE) (English) KIMBERLY DECOURSEY, 37, WHO LIVES IN A SHELTER AND ON THE STREET, SAYING: "The slightest thing can make you lose your place and then you wind up out here and we're looked upon like dirt.

" But after spending years on the street, she now has a place to sleep at night.

(SOUNDBITE) (English) KIMBERLY DECOURSEY, 37, WHO LIVES IN A SHELTER AND ON THE STREET, SAYING: "I'm in a shelter currently but my fiance is out here, so I kind of go both places." Like many in the homeless community, the 37-year-old battled with substance abuse.

Yet for others - like Kenny Bard, who lives out of his car - the problem is economic.

(SOUNDBITE) (English) KENNY MILES BARD, 61, WHO LIVES IN HIS CAR, SAYING: "Rents in Hollywood, for a studio, is like, what, $1200.

So first and last is $2400.

I definitely don't even have that." Either way - the problem is getting worse.

More people are falling into homelessness.

This January - the number of people on the streets of LA rose by 16 percent compared to the previous year.

The surge comes despite the county raising more than $1 billion to fix the problem.

After voters in 2016 approved Prop HHH - a measure to build housing for the homeless and the poor.

But three years later - Los Angeles is facing some major challenges - including skyrocketing real estate prices and stiff opposition.

In Venice, where the median home price is almost $2 million, some residents have gone to court to oppose a homeless centers, worried it could hurt property values.

But officials are also facing resistance from within the homeless community.

Like Bard, who has has tried living in a shelter, but said he didn't like the rules.

(SOUNDBITE) (English) KENNY MILES BARD, 61, WHO LIVES IN HIS CAR, SAYING: "There's just more freedom when you're living in your car or out on the street.

I'm not putting down shelters.

Thank God they exist and we need more of them, obviously.

But for me I'd rather not be in a shelter." But for Decoursey, it's a different story.

(SOUNDBITE) (English) KIMBERLY DECOURSEY, 37, WHO LIVES IN A SHELTER AND ON THE STREET, SAYING: "The circumstances out here are dangerous.

The sooner we all can be housed, the better." The first permanent homes funded by Prop HHH is scheduled to open by the end of 2019.

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