Imagine you’re a homeless woman living in a tent in Los Angeles’s San Fernando Valley. You don’t have access to a bathroom or shower. You don’t know where your next meal is coming from. Every day is filled with survival and uncertainty, and the neighborhood of Chatsworth where you live hates homeless people. Would you run for public office?
Meet Rita Dunn. Rita is a 39-year-old woman who lost everything in the 2008 crash. Like with many people who end up homeless, Rita’s life snowballed until she was living in a tent on the side of the railroad tracks.
Earlier today, the Los Angeles Police Department was attempting to sweep the homeless encampment, which is something they do regularly. Sweep is a term used to describe the ongoing criminalization of homeless people.
Rita is a powerful woman. My favorite part of this interview is about 3/4 of the way in when we talk about how homelessness has made her tougher, yet also more patient and humble. As strong as Rita is, she needs support. No one should be living outside in a tent just because they cannot find work, or they cannot afford an apartment. With coronavirus creating massive unemployment, homelessness will soon get significantly worse.
I think it’s incredible that Rita is running for the Chatsworth Neighborhood Council. I wish more homeless people would get politically active, but when you’re in survival mode, securing a safe place to sleep can be completely overwhelming. I hope Rita wins and can keep advancing her political career. We need honest and real people to take back our country and make it a priority to help people experiencing poverty and homelessness.