Interview with John Kelly from Los Angeles Mission About Skid Row

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I have been sitting here for some time trying to figure what to say about Skid Row. I do not know of any other area in the world that gets me as emotional as the fifty square blocks of downtown known to the world as Skid Row. As I have stated before, when I first moved to Los Angeles in 1987, I was scared to go downtown. I avoided the area until I ended up homeless and had to access services. Now, I walk around Skid Row with only one worry – I hope I never get used to seeing the pain and suffering. Now, I somehow feel drawn to the area.  In fact, while waiting to record this interview, I started to wish I worked on Skid Row, and I probably would jump at the chance to do so.  I’m not so sure if I just love the colorful community or I just want to give my all to help others – or a little of both!

Trying to describe Skid Row to someone who has never been there is like trying to explain light refraction to a frog.  Skid Row really has to be experienced first hand! The closest media has come to portraying the realness of Skid Row is five short videos produced by Sam Slovick and Good Magazine. If you do nothing else today please take a moment and watch the first video in the series: Skid Row Part 1: Introduction.

After I watched a screening of “LOST ANGELS – skid row is my home”, I could not get Skid Row out of my mind. I decided Invisible People will spend some time focusing on Skid Row’s homelessness, empowering people to tell their own stories. Plus, I will blog here about homeless services and other issues that effect the Skid Row community. The Skid Row area has the largest population of homelessness in this country. Skid Row is also home to many low income families and singles, seniors, people on disability, working poor, and unfortunately – a large group of predators selling drugs and taking advantage of people who may not be able to put up much resistance.

Huffington Post asked me to produce a video about what our homeless friends thought prior to the last election, and the Los Angeles Mission was kind enough to give me access. That day I met John Kelly for the first time. Having come from the streets myself, you kind of get a sense about people. John was the real deal. I could also see he was respected, something that does not come easy on a place like Skid Row.

Normally I try and keep videos short, but John has so much first-hand information about Skid Row and homeless services we kept on talking and talking. John starts off with a little history about the area and the interview ends with his suggestions on how we may better fight homelessness and poverty.  All of the interview is powerful so I hope you take a moment to watch and then share with your networks.

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