Dakota is 29 years old. She has been homeless off and on for 10 years. This time for four months. Dakota has no ID so she cannot receive welfare. Without identification, she can’t leave Los Angeles even if she wanted to. Most of us cannot even imagine what this young woman has to do to survive the streets of Venice Beach every single day.
As a young homeless woman, Dakota tries to make the best of it. She left an abusive relationship. Domestic violence is a leading cause of homelessness.
I am spending this week in Venice, California learning about local homeless issues by talking to homeless people and local residents. One thing that’s really struck me about the Venice homeless community is the number of people who have adapted to a life of homelessness.
Most people when they first lose their apartment or place to live, try to better their situation. The problem is homeless services doesn’t make it easy for people to get off the streets and there are not enough resources to help people. Over time, people get used to homelessness. Learned helplessness sets in. They stop trying to change their lives and develop a survival mentality. The beach culture of Venice ends up becoming a lifestyle. Many of the homeless people I talked to don’t ever see a path out of homelessness.
WE MUST CHANGE THAT! We need to be able to help people when they first end up homelessness long before learned helplessness sets in.
Venice is building what’s known as a Bridge Housing. It’s a huge step in the right direction but we need more housing and homeless shelters for people. If you’d like to learn more about Venice’s Bridge Housing please click here.