One Day in the American City

S1 E2 | CLIP

Skid Row in Search of a Solution

General Dogon, of LA Community Action Network, takes us on a tour of Skid Row. Dogon explains the challenging economic and social dynamics in play while searching for a solution to the area’s homelessness epidemic. His personal involvement offers a raw point of view of the struggle to balance out the extreme wealth disparity of the area.

AIRED: May 04, 2016 | 0:03:13
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TRANSCRIPT

Man: I came in prison as a Blood.

The inmates named me the General,

but, uh, folks on Skid Row, they call me the Field Commander.

Hey, how you doing, buddy?

Man: Where you been at last couple of--

Oh, I haven't seen you today.

Dogon, voice-over: Not only is Skid Row, uh,

a poor and oppressed community.

It's also one of the homeless capitals of the nation.

Like, you got more homeless people sleeping on the streets

in Skid Row, you know, than in any other community

in the nation.

Anywhere, you got between 3,000 to 5,000 homeless people

that's sleeping on the streets.

It's this organization called CCA--

Central City Association.

They came out with a-- what they call a 2020 plan,

what they want to see for downtown 2020--

you understand me?-- and we was like,

"Whoa, we don't see us," so what we did was,

we created our own 2020 plan.

We--we called it--entitled it Share the Wealth.

We wanted more affordable housing for people, you know.

Then we wanted to stop the criminalization

of homelessness.

That's what our 2020 plan called for,

and they was like, "Oh, no."

They wouldn't even--they didn't even want to talk about it,

so, OK, we was like, "All right.

We're gonna hang out at your spot."

We pushed it so much that they end up throwing in the towel,

and they finally met with us.

After all this, we met with them.

We said, "OK. Well, we can talk all day long,

"but in order to solve the problem,

we have to, you know, give the people something"--

you know what I'm saying?--

"I mean, so let's create something we can give them."

I said, "Well, give people some housing."

"We can probably work with you on that,"

so it's this hotel right here.

Let's turn around and look at it.

It's called the Cecil Hotel.

So we say, "It's empty, and it has to stay low-income,"

so we told the people at CCA,

"Let's take 400 people off the streets, homeless,

and put them in that hotel."

They was like, "Oh, that sounds like a good idea,"

so we went--went through all this work, paperwork,

you know, got it all done, went through all these connections,

got all the paperwork done, and right when it's time

for them to sign on the dotted line, they refused,

and the business owners on Main Street said

they do not want 400 pe-- homeless people

to move into a hotel on the street, right,

that it'd be like a Ho--a Hotel Homeless,

so you're just incarcerating all these homeless people

in this one spot.

"We don't want all that crime all coming out here and stuff."

You refused to put 400 homeless people that's on the block

into that hotel.

These are the same people every day

that you complain about that's pissing

on the side of your building.

These are the same people you complain about

that's sleeping outside, that's panhandling.

You know what I'm saying?

This is the time to get them off the streets

and into a hotel.

One one said, they are letting folks hang out--

the yuppies hang out on Main Street,

and not only do they hang out on Main Street.

The city came out here and put swings and benches

and card games for them to play.

We're gonna walk our street and look at some of those, right,

but then we're gonna walk down the street.

Just two blocks over, if you sit your ass on the ground,

all hell's gonna break out with LAPD.

They gonna come, and they gonna take all your property,

and then they gonna arrest you.


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