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Pandemic Hollywood

Housing Considerations When Moving to Los Angeles

By: Emily Bunn

In Los Angeles, homelessness runs rampant along the streets that are advertised to grant fame and fortune to its residents. The rise of the homelessness epidemic is centered in LA, where homeless encampments have begun to swallow up entire city blocks, as demonstrated by Skid Row. Under almost every bridge and freeway, tents and homeless communities can be spotted. The rising cost of housing is one of the largest factors in the increasing gentrification and homeless population of Los Angeles. As a student graduating and looking to enter into the entertainment industry, LA seems like the prime location to situate myself. But in the time of the coronavirus pandemic exacerbating homeless and housing prices, it brings into question where the best place to move into Los Angeles for prospective residents may be.

Family friends of mine had immediately recommended Silverlake, for its’ safety and relatively central positioning to Hollywood and Downtown LA. My father commented to me “they just cleared all of the homeless people out of there.” His comment was, of course, well-meaning and remarked upon in reference to my safety and wellbeing. But the idea of simply “clearing out” people from their homes- temporary dwellings on public property or otherwise- didn’t sit right with me. The homeless population are not trash to picked up, or inconvenient LA traffic to sift through, they are as much valid residents of LA County as are the celebrities lounging in Calabasas.

Residents in LA have protested against these efforts to remove the homeless from their dwellings, such as a recently imposed order to vacate a park near the intersection of Glendale Boulevard and Park Avenue. In March of 2020, protesters had continued their march to the residence of Mitch O’Farrell, opposing city council’s orders for a 24 hour removal notice. At the same time, perhaps these efforts to move homeless people out of public property is in their favor. City Council attested that after the 24 hour notice, unhoused persons would be granted  alternative housing resources. While being uprooted from where one has found a comfortable space to live seems invasive, these efforts might lead to better living situations for all community members. In the same month, LA launched Project Roomkey to provide non-congregate shelter options for houseless residents to aid the homeless epidemic and minimize the strain on the health care system.

As I searched for where to live in LA, of course I also wanted to best look out for my health and safety, while also respecting the lives and living spaces of the people who already live there. I’ve settled on an Air BnB in West Hollywood, for its young population demographic central location, and walkability. But as I look to move and become acquainted with my own way around LA, I’ll be sure to be mindful to stay in my lane regarding residency. I refuse to disrupt the living situations of others for my own comfort, when the subject may be a matter of life or death for those less fortunate. Though I am lucky enough to be able to afford housing, recognizing that privilege is necessary to truly assimilating into the culture of Los Angeles and all of its residents.

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