This past Monday, I had the honor of celebrating the life and legacy of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. with the leadership of the AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) and its affiliate, the Healthy Housing Foundation (HHF), and several other community leaders at the groundbreaking ceremony of a low-income housing facility, the Renaissance Center. Once complete, it will serve as housing for extremely low-income and formerly homeless individuals with 216 available units on hand. This latest facility comes at a crucial time when the number of homeless in Los Angeles continues to increase while disproportionately impacting people of color. We applaud organizations like AHF and HHF for doing the work that must be done to house those in need.
In 1966 Dr. King spoke on homelessness and its impact on our community, stating, “We are tired of living in rat-infested slums. Now is the time to make real the promises of democracy. Now is the time to open the doors of opportunity to all of God’s children.” It has been 56 years since Dr. King gave that speech, but the number of impoverished has only grown. The need for supportive services like housing, mental health centers, and job training has only become in greater demand.
The difference between then and now is that we have far more resources than before to eradicate homelessness. It now becomes our responsibility to use these resources to benefit those most in need. Organizations like AHF, HHF, the Los Angeles Urban League, and other community-based organizations that seek to empower and uplift our community can only do so much.
If California were a country, we would have the 5th largest economy behind the United States, China, Japan, and Germany. In 2021, the Gross Domestic Product of California was $3.35 Trillion–more productive than India and the United Kingdom.
As the highest-grossing state in the nation, we should not at the same time be the homeless capital of the U.S., but yet we are.
With endless rows of homeless encampments reaching more and more corners of the city, it is apparent that we are not doing enough to address the needs of our brothers and sisters. We need to invest in our people, just as we invest in the growth of California. We cannot call ourselves a profitable state when so few profit and many remain unhoused and impoverished.
We are in the midst of a growing humanitarian crisis, but we can turn this around. We need to reallocate our resources to help our brothers and sisters develop and utilize their talents and skills for the benefit of the entire state. We have the resources to address this problem. The time is now for bold action. Together we can change course and perhaps achieve the dream that Rev. Dr. Martiin Luther King, Jr. shared with us all.