Our National Disgrace: Homelessness in the City of Angels

Homelessness in Los Angeles has burst its traditional borders. These days, downtown’s Skid Row is only the ugly epicenter of a staggering problem that radiates outward for more than one hundred miles. Homelessness has spread to gloomy underpasses and dark side streets, to parks, libraries, and subway platforms, so that there are now more than 57,000 people who lack a regular place to sleep in Los Angeles County. From Long Beach to Hollywood to Beverly Hills to Lancaster, no Angeleno can credibly claim to be unaware of the squalid tent cities, the sprawling encampments, or the despair and misery displayed there. In March 2018, the Editorial Board of the Los Angeles Times published a powerful six-part series describing the problem in this city—one that is mirrored to one degree or another up and down the West Coast, from Portland to San Francisco to San Diego. The editorials explain who LA’s homeless people really are and how they got there, call for changes in policy toward the mentally ill, and urge weak-kneed politicians to be leaders in the struggle to provide housing for the homeless. All six editorials have now been bound together into a single vital and disturbing book.

About the Authors

Founded in 1881, the Los Angeles Times is the largest news-gathering organization west of the Mississippi. Now read by more than 50 million unique visitors monthly, The Times’ journalism has won forty-four Pulitzer Prizes, six of which were gold medals for public service. The editorials collected in this book are the work of The Times’ editorial board, which is responsible for determining the positions of the paper on the important issues of the day. Unlike articles written by the paper’s reporters in its news pages, editorials are works of opinion. They are unsigned because they represent the consensus of the board. The opinions expressed in these editorials were reached through a process of discussion and deliberation by editorial writers Kerry Cavanaugh, Mariel Garza, Robert Greene, Carla Hall, Karin Klein, Scott Martelle, and Michael McGough, working with editorial page editor Nicholas Goldberg and deputy editor Jon Healey.