The burned-out hull of a camper parked along the main street that leads to my house was jarring. The damage done to the trailer was nearly complete, which left me immediately wondering about the fate of its owner. Was this camper one of the many throughout the city that has become the final refuge of our fellow citizens facing a life on the streets? If so, was the person able to escape the flames? Were all of their worldly possessions consumed in the conflagration?
Others in my neighborhood viewed the fire in more personal terms. On the cesspool of humanity that is Nexdoor.com, Allen Altoun posted a video of firefighters mopping up the fire with commentary that complained that this was "too close to my home." While Altoun claimed that his "heart really aches for those who have lost their homes," he demanded that they "move out of our neighborhood". Apparently, the unhoused should never be seen or heard, and they certainly do not have any claim to the neighborhood where they rest their heads at night.there were 171,575 people in families with children who experienced homelessness on a single night in 2020". Of these, "16,667 people, were found in unsheltered locations."
Invariably, at least one response to this post will be "if you care so much about this issue, Carl, then why don't you let them live in your house," as if turning my home into a homeless shelter will solve the crisis. Like almost every other crisis facing our nation, the unhoused crisis has become politicized. The problem is more useful to politicians than solutions.
As our country descends further into a Cold Civil War, Republican politicians see issues like this as another opportunity to "own the libs." They offer no solutions for the actual victims but play on the fears of their supporters by pushing for laws that criminalize homelessness. Progressives within the Democratic party see the unhoused as victims of capitalism run amok but get nothing more than lip service from politicians who have become addicted to the bribes, both legal and illegal, that are provided by developers. Meanwhile, our fellow Americans suffer in the streets.
Carl Petersen is a parent advocate for students with special education needs and public education. He is an elected member of the Northridge East Neighborhood Council and serves as the Education Chair. As a Green Party candidate in LAUSD's District 2 School Board race, he was endorsed by Network for Public Education (NPE) Action. Dr. Diane Ravitch has called him "a valiant fighter for public schools in Los Angeles." For links to his blogs, please visit www.ChangeTheLAUSD.com. Opinions are his own.