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Advocates for homeless to protest perceived efforts to stem their work

Advocates for the homeless plan to serve meals to skid row residents Thursday afternoon to protest what they say are efforts to prevent them from providing much-needed basic resources to the indigent.

The Right to Share Food Extravaganza is scheduled to take place from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. at the southwest corner of 6th Street and Towne Avenue, two blocks east of San Pedro Street.

“We want to exercise and protect our right to share food with our brothers and sisters,” said Michael Hubman, founder of the groups Right to Share Food and Watercorps, which provides drinking water to people living on skid row.

The "sidewalk picnic" is part of a daylong series of actions to support the right to provide ad hoc meals and snacks to people on the street. Dozens of groups from across Southern California hand out food and clothing each week on skid row.

Hubman and other activists claim that law enforcement officers and some city officials are intentionally trying to cut off such supplies in an attempt to force the homeless into shelters.

James Parham, who helps run World Agape, a resource center for the homeless, said that in June public health officials stopped him from operating a 5-year-old soup line because of food safety regulations and potential environmental hazards.

"It’s more stereotyping people on skid row," Parham said.

LAPD Officer Deon Joseph, a senior lead officer with the city's Safer City Initiative, disputed the claims posed by some advocates. "That’s absolutely 100% false," he said. "What we’re for is people doing it in a responsible way."

Providing resources, such as bottled water and hygiene products, and encouraging street people to seek assistance at designated missions and shelters are productive ways to assist the homeless, Joseph said.

"When you give them food in an area where there are so many other resources for foods, you're incentivizing the streets and keeping them on the streets and nearer to their vices, like drugs," Joseph said.

-- Ann M. Simmons

Photo credit: Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times

Comments () | Archives (19)

Note this comment:
"When you give them food in an area where there are so many other resources for foods, you're incentivizing the streets and keeping them on the streets and nearer to their vices, like drugs," Officer Joseph said.
Now Officer Joseph should know that the drug dealers are swarming around homeless shelters like flies swarm around.......

Sure, only people who work for a living have to follow health code and licensing laws. These self-appointed "advocates" can do whatever they want.

No kidding Richard. I have seen more drugs pushed in the homeless shelters. Really what LAPD is trying to do is ignore the lives of homeless individuals. Honestly, I panhandle every day to make the necessary extra money that me and my caretaker needs to survive and I have been harassed for this despite them worrying more about gangs and other serious crime such as murder and rape.

I refuse to stay in shelters because of safety and the fact that they separate families who would be much better staying together. There are no suitable accommodations for couples and I have personally witnessed people shooting up in the bathrooms while the security was outside. They should worry more about that then helpful individuals providing food and clothing.

I live downtown. Officer Joseph is 100% correct. These impromtu soup kitchens simply aid street people in spending their recycling money and panhandling money on drugs and alcohol. I see this all the time and the homeless people I talked to confirm this. I am sure it feels good to give food away but it does not help the problem.

He actually makes a valid point. Kind of like how you are not supposed to feed wild life because they will stop hunting for food and get lazy, and it does them more harm then good. Also, providing them with food, while a nobel gesture, with out proper monitoring can lead to a mass food poisioning for people who cannot afford the medical care they will need when they get sick.

The big problem with giving away food is the garbage left behind when the do-gooders pack up and head back to suburbia. Then the unsheltered people have to deal with the filth, the rats and the roaches that take advantage of the new food supply.

So maybe the police think it's better for people to eat out of a dumpster than an old soup kitchen? Giving someone a bottle of water and a pb&j is somehow encouraging the homeless to stay on the street? And, of course, there they go again assuming that all or most of the homeless are drug addicts. The police aren't exactly cutting-edge thinkers, are they? Wake up to the current reality, please. So many homeless are screwed-up veterans; it's a testimony to a screwed-up and failing system. Let's all keep trying to evolve to a better place instead of regurgitating the same old propaganda. Where is the input from mental health professionals and social workers? Sounds like all the police are concerned with is keeping the homeless as INVISIBLE as possible. Are they getting their playbooks from Mayor Oscar Goodman of Las Vegas?

I'm sure that stupid photo will prove they're a credible entity, and garner them enormous support.

"...They knew we were broke and had no relatives on the road or relatives to wire for money or anything. The American police are involved in psychological warfare against those Americans who don't frighten them with imposing papers and threats. There's no defense. Poor people have to expect to have their lives interfered with ad infinitum by these neurotic busybodies. It's a Victorian police force; it peers out of musty windows and wants to inquire about everything, and can make crimes if the crimes don't exist to their satisfaction." -Jack Kerouac - On The Road--

I guess the times will never change...

I used to sell perfume and cologne business to business at one time. One weekend i was in pasadensa working colorado blvd, and generally the most down to earth kindest people were the homeless. most everyone else was rude and stuck up. yes there are some that are crazy drug addicts, but there are many who are good people just down on their luck. In this economy hard times can hit anybody. Its just funny to me that the people society shuns the most can be the ones that show the best aspects of what being human really can be.

It seems suspicious. All of a sudden now the police is cracking down on drug dealing and preventing people from distributing food to the homeless?

I think it is all part of gentrification. The area is now desirable and it's the police's job to clear the area of the undesirables.

When they want to get rid of you, they will get ride of you.

Our nonprofit homeless outreach has shared many hundreds of meals with an equal number of homeless people on L.A.’s West Side. We’ve always stayed within the law. Nevertheless, a bitter minority among the self-righteous tries to stop us from feeding people who can’t provide for themselves. They do their best to thwart us from giving homeless people clean clothes, healthy beverages, warm blankets and other vital necessities. Sad to say, there will always be people like that. They’re mental, emotional and social pygmies. Fortunately, the great majority of Los Angelenos support our efforts, and the homeless men, women and children we serve are extremely grateful. We persist in extending a hand up to people society has kicked to the curb. Will we stop because of criticism and opposition? Not a chance!

Sigh...the level of ignorance on here. The bleeding hearts who post on here have probably never spent a single day in skid row. Yet their suddenly experts. They like to scream such words as "gentrification, racism, and discrimination," yet they are totally ignorant of the dynamics of skid row. Then you have those like "Cookie," who apparently IS a "cutting edge thinker." How she plays the "veteran" sympathy card...how she uses America's feeling for veterans to bolster her argument to keep skid row the way it currently is. For those who have never been to skid row, there is PLENTY of food in the missions. It's just many choose not to eat in the missions because the missions have RULES. You know...unfair rules like, no fighting, no cussing, no drug use, no smoking...horrible rules!

Homeless is new PC name for what used to be called bums. All of a sudden (well maybe not suddenly), the homeless (not families displaced by circumstances beyond their control)feel that they are entitled to do whatever they want....drink, do drugs, and hang out on the streets because they are not going to abide by anyone's rules at shelters. Let's try concentrating our tax dollars on persons who want to be productive parts of this society.

23% to 33% of the homeless population are veterans. 85%completed high school/GED. 89% received HONORABLE discharges. These are people who "played by the rules." Only 9% of the population are veterans, so you should be able to see that there is a special problem here. During the big depression, people demonized "bums" and always insisted that there was work for men who "really wanted to work." A lie then and now. Homeless veterans are not a card to be played or merely a statistic. But they are real people who need help and not name calling and superficial judgements--just like the other homeless. Ignoring problems and trying to sweep them under the rug really is an old mistake. When help is offered, it deserves better than to refused flat out. (Not that it should matter, but I used to work in downtown Los Angeles for about a year and a half. And, yes, I have talked to the homeless and shared more than one meal with them. I only mention this because the attitude of several people here seems to be that you can't be sympathetic or know what you're talking about if you haven't been to skidrow.)

Actually Cookie, it does matter, GREATLY, if you've worked or lived in skid row if you're going to express an informed opinion of what is happening in skid row. If you've ever spent any time in skid row you would understand the dynamics there cannot be compared to any other in mainstream America. You would also understand that the societal norms that mold our mainstream American societies BARELY come into play in skid row. So yes, it does matter if you've been in skid row, and in what capacity, if you're going to express an INFORMED opinion. The majority of the homeless I've interviewed who choose to live, eat, and sleep on the streets (as opposed to the missions) tell me they choose to do so because there are "too many rules" in the missions. They in fact tell me they prefer the streets because they can "do whatever they want."

I've worked in skid row for over ten years. I've seen it from the chaotic, out-of-control days of the late 90's to the SOMEWHAT less chaotic present. In my capacity there I've interviewed THOUSANDS of the skid row homeless and can say without a doubt that 23%-33% of the population there ARE NOT veterans. I would have to say the number would be closer to 5%-8%. I myself am an 11 year Marine Corps veteran, so pay close attention to the veteran status of those I interview. Of that number, approx half received something other than an honorable discharge.

I might also add that I've seen Officer Joseph out here, daily, for MANY YEARS, working his butt off to improve the quality of life on skid row. Although there are others here that are as dedicated to improving life down here, and work as hard as Officer Joseph, I"ve seen anyone work HARDER than Officer Joseph. This despite being vilified by the numerous "poverty pimp" orginizations, like LA CAN, who have made a lucrative business out of homelessness. There are few who understand the dynamics of skid row better than Officer Joseph.

Accepting at face value whatever a homeless person has to say about why they are homeless is not being well informed. (Victims of all sorts of crimes and conditions often blame themselves, and aren't sure why they act the way they do.) We need the informed opinion of psychologists and sociologists here. Posting a comment here does not mean the author considers themselves an "expert". You read the article and post a comment. My figures are from a national veterans homeless group--as they say, your mileage may vary. If someone has a different opinion than you do, it does not mean they are "totally ignorant". In my opinion, the homeless are a symptom of a dysfunctional society, not the cause. Many thanks to Loren Franck for his work. It seems to me there should be room for many voices here without all the posing and anger. I almost expect someone to post: "Are there no prisons? Are there no workhouses?" The Victorian attitudes of Mr. Scrooge seem alive and well. Maybe we can all work to move forward somehow, I hope so. Hang in there, Tammy Shaver. Really, thanks to anyone is genuinely trying to help. Even if you're not one of us so-called "bleeding hearts".

Cookie. I am kind of saddened by your post. I don't think you know or understand what I have seen over 13 years in Skid Row. What separates me from the average person simply commneting on the is issue, is that I am living the issue. No one is demonizing the homeless or stereotyping on my end. I do not judge people, I police people. I say the things I say because of what I have seen. Not as some guy sitting at some desk all day crunching numbers and making assumtions, I am in the streets, and in love with serving the Skid Row community. I never once told anyone to stop helping the homeless, I told them to help in a more responsible manner that does not keep the homeless individuals I protect daily in the street where many of them continue to destroy themselves with narcotics. Cookie, there is a huge difference between helping someone and patronizing soemone. If outside groups stopped feeding the homeless today, there is no way in the world people would starve or go without food. On some days during the week, that is a reality in Skid Row where feedings and clothes drop offs are at a minimum. During those days, people somehow make their way to the missions to eat. Then Friday Saturday and Sunday rolls around, and folks with the best of intentions turn a community where people have plenty of food and clothing resources into a city dump because 'they' not I have a stereotypical view of Skid Row. I don't just see these wonderful people in Skid Row Cookie, I know their names and I am involved in their lives for their betterment. I've seen many of them at their best, and their worst. I've seen first hand what happens when the feeders leave and how it affects the behaviors of the area. I've also seen people from within Skid Row (not the lofts, because the feeding issue does not affect the lots areas) who are sick and tired of people dumping on their community even with the best of intentions. I completely understand feedings and clothes drop offs in areas where there are no services, but in Skid Row it is simply unneccasary. I will give you an example. Just last Friday, a man and a crew of students came to the Midnight Mission to drop off juices and sandwiches to men and women who were already standing in line to eat lunch at the Mission. That made no sense, and what made it worse was that many of the folks simply took one or two bites of the sandwich and dropped it on the sidewalk. Cookie, what I am asking you, and anyone else to do on this issue, is to forget for a second if you can that I wear a badge and work for the city, and ask yourself if what I am saying makes sense. Stop judging me because of the uniform I wear and try as best as you can to be objective. If you met me, you would know how much I care about the people of Skid Row, yet you and many criticts are so blinded by stereotypes about law enforcement that we could tell you the sky is blue and you would be skeptical of that. There are responsible ways to donate to the homeless. I will give you several; Donate you time, clothing and money to the area mission. There are many to choose from whether it be faith based or non faith based. If you are going to help in the street, engage in give aways that help encourage the homeless to better themselves. Passing out things like soap, shampoo, sanitary products, lotions, tooth paste and brushes go a long way in helping, asnd you won't see those items dumped in the street because people NEED those items. These items do wonders in getting many people struggling with mental illness and other issues to go to the missions and shower, where maybe, just maybe they will decide to check in for other services. You won't believe how many lives in Skid Row have been changed just from a simple shower. Where is the incentive to change when i can eat a meal in the street and cater to my vice, instead of eating at a shelter and possible check into a drug program. Give bottled water during the summer months, because many handicapped people and addicts who have been binging for drugs for days, get dehydrated during those times, and the bottle usually get recycled which is good for the enviornment. For people in business, economic empowerment is key. There are many people in Skid Row who are getting a hold of their addictions, and have been sober for long periods of time, and would love to start working, even to develope a work history and keep themselves busy. If you know of housing programs or drug programs outside of Skid Row come down and share it with people, because due to the high level of drug sales outside of the drug programs, one could imaging how difficult it is to get clean inspite of great strides made by our department to improve the issue. Please remember that no one is against helping, what we are for is helping in a responsible way, that is it. I challenge anyone willing to do so, to come to the monthly Skid Row walks on the 1st Wednsday of every month to see, touch and smell the issue for themselves. Then if you wanted to disagree with me, I could live with that. The only thing i ask is that you put away your politics to the left or the right and open you mind. I'll leave you with this Cookie. One's heart should be the catalyst for any noble cause. One's head should be the means to get it done. I've used my head to carry out my hearts desire to make Skid Row safer. You can reach me at [email protected]

Oh, by the way Cookie. The shelters, and many social groups are standing by us on this issue. There is only one or two groups that have a problem with our efforts to motivate people to modify their good will activities They are the ones with the agenda. You must understand that there are people that benifit from Skid Row looking like a city dump. Groups such as these people need Skid Row to look like Dante's Inferno so they can't exploit these images to their donors for funding that once recieved has no affect on the lives of the homless community. But the vast majority of major service providers who are actually in Skid Row are in agreement with us on this important issue. The service provider community are the professionals, and they welcome volunteers to assist them in helping within their walls where there is structure for the homeless. These dedicated individuals who help the homeless on a 24/7 basis can show you how to help in a progressive manner, not a destructive one. I've seen them turn peoples lives around, and am thankful for them letting me be a part of the process as a police officer.


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