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Two weeks ago, I did a move-in with PATH [People Assisting The Homeless], helping a mother and daughter get settled at a beautiful permanent residence in Los Feliz. They had been homeless and living on the street for four years, mostly sleeping in their car after the mother started struggling with mental health issues and couldn’t get the help she needed.
They have finally gotten the help they needed and they’re doing great — the daughter is now registered for school at a community college. This is one of about 15 move-ins that my friends and I have helped with over the past several years while I have been volunteering with PATH. I have created a personal relationship with some of those individuals and families I have met through the homelessness nonprofit, and I even brought some families and children to the premiere of Frozen in 2013.
I find it intolerable that we let people live on the streets. I don’t care what their afflictions are. We all struggle. I take pride in my community and I’d like to do all that I can to make sure that the ones who are struggling have the most options and opportunities. I believe that apathetically condemning people for living on the street is heartless and inhumane.
I don’t think any single measure is going to eradicate homelessness, but Proposition HHH is a helpful and essential first step, using money from property taxes for a strategic plan to help those in need. If the median assessed value of your home in Los Angeles is just under $600,000, it will cost you about $50 per year. The city has identified a dozen unused properties as potential housing sites and others will be proposed by developers and approved by the City Council. And I know that Mayor Eric Garcetti is fast-tracking the permitting procedures so the housing can be built in half the time.
When I see homeless statistics — not only everywhere in the world but specifically in my area — I’m really sick to my stomach. I’ve seen statistics about Los Angeles County that estimate that, on any given night, there can 55,000 people on the streets. Others say 28,000 on any given night in Los Angeles alone. It doesn’t matter. If it’s one person, then it’s me. Homelessness is increasing by 11% per year in Los Angeles, and money alone is not going to solve it. But this is a small concession to fix a gigantic problem that we all care about.
Money is essential but so is opening our hearts and minds. We need to put our hands and our hearts where our money and mouth is. We’re caring for other human beings. I refuse to look at people who I have to step over on the street as animals. I feel so strongly about it because I’ve been volunteering with PATH and I’ve seen it up close. I’ve seen the faces and I’ve seen housing genuinely change people’s lives. HHH is a really good version of the help that we need. It’s worth it.
A version of this story first appeared in the Nov. 11 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.
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