While the joy of Christmas festivities are enjoyed by many as they exchange gifts, many — particularly those in California’s Skid Row district — don’t have that luxury.
The scene of garbage bags, litter and tents as temporary homes stretched for miles as a car’s dash camera displayed the brutal reality faced by the Downtown Los Angeles homeless population.
The images were shot by Los Angeles-based street artist Plastic Jesus, who shared the video on Instagram and stretched form 5th Street, 6th Street and Pedro Street, according to U.K. Daily Mail.
Rows of makeshift canopies can be seen in portions of the viral three-minute footage, with crowds gathered on the sides of streets and others carrying their belongings with them.
The clip itself displays the everyday life of America’s poorest — with many being women and children — in an area considered to be one of the most dangerous places to live in Los Angeles.
The video had also been shared by Nick Stern for LiveLeak, where he wrote about the epidemic of homelessness in the large city, where he estimated nearly 20,000 homeless people currently live.
“It’s evident after a drive around that many have mental health problems,” Stern wrote. “The area is home to a number of shelters and rescue missions providing shelter to the lucky few and food.”
“The US is ranked as one of the wealthiest nations on Earth but also home to some of the poorest,” he added.
And the state’s rising cost of rent and housing hasn’t helped, as many middle-class residents are forced to find alternative accommodations, often living in their cars or by the roadside.
According to U.K. Daily Mail, hundreds of people, including those with common jobs as nurses or chefs, sleep in parking lots.
“For example, nursing assistant Marva Ericson has been sleeping in her Kia for the past three months,” the article states. “She showers at her local YMCA then gets dressed in her hospital scrubs for work.”
In fact, the issue had become so commonplace that, just over a decade ago, the Safe Parking Program was introduced in the area of Santa Barbara.
The widespread program, which currently uses 23 parking lots in Santa Barbara alone, allows clients to stay overnight in the lots of churches, not-for-profits and even lots designed for government offices.
According to The Washington Post, the wealthiest one percent of American households own 40 percent of the country’s overall wealth, with their share of wealth shooting up nearly three percentage points since 2013.
The result of those percentages means that that same one percent owns more wealth than the bottom 90 percent combined.
“That gap between the ultrawealthy and everyone else,” the Post suggests, “has only become wider in the past several decades.”
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