Investing in the Nickel: LA's Homeless, Gentrification and the Battle Over Skid Row Erica Fick and Caitlin Peel
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Skid Row is a 52-block area that makes up 4.5% of downtown Los Angeles, and houses the highest concentration of the city?s homeless population. Skid Row is often referred to as ?The Nickel?, because it is centered around 5th Street. Since 2000, Skid Row has become a hotbed of competing interests, especially between the high-powered developers, the business community, the service and advocacy groups, city government, the new residents, and the homeless who have occupied the area for over forty years. Although there are many different issues around which city politics revolve, however they all seem to relate back to one major concern: who is in control over the land? While gentrification is a national issue, downtown Los Angeles faces a particularly complex problem, as it is the homeless capital of the United States. In this study, we will look at the history of Skid Row, the major players downtown, their competing interests, and the policy battles that occur between them, while specifically looking at the role the advocacy group, Los Angeles Community Action Network (LA CAN) plays in organizing the homeless to gain power in effecting these policies.