Fighting to Protect Health, Civil and Housing Rights in the Skid Row Community
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The Skid Row area of downtown, a 50 block area is home to the largest number of homeless men and women, as well as many low income and very low income residents living in residential hotels. With a combination of economic forces, government policy and policing initiatives (the so-called Safer Cities Initiative) pushing the poor out to provide housing and services for higher income residents, Skid Row is a community constantly being challenged (Los Angeles was recently named as the number one meanest city for criminalizing the homeless). This summer I worked with LA CAN a community organizing group focusing on both housing rights and human rights for community members. My housing work mainly consisted of organizing in hotels to ensure habitability, fire code and health code protections as well as working at the legal clinic we provide weekly, helping to document housing violations and address the large number of expensive tickets (jaywalking, sitting/lying on the ground and littering) given to community residents as a result of the increased concentration of officers in Skid Row (because of SCI). I also helped with researching and documenting civil rights abuses at the hands of police officers in addition to organizing residents, business owners and workers to end the initiative. Additionally I spent time doing research about transitional housing-including: the limited stability it provides, common services it provides, how many units are available in Los Angeles, who qualifies for the housing available, rules and regulations and associated funding.