The Middle Class: Bankrupt & Homeless in L.A.
Source: Yahoo! News
At a homeless shelter on Skid Row in Los Angeles, there’s a man who once made a six-figure salary as a successful producer of Hollywood films and sitcoms. He produced a movie that grossed tens of millions at the box office, was represented by one of the largest television agencies and used to be friends with well-known actors. But then he had trouble getting work, and after a while was unable to pay rent. His family moved in with a friend, but then that house went into foreclosure. So four months ago, with nowhere else to turn, he arrived at the shelter with his wife and two boys. “I did everything I could not to end up in the stereotype of a shelter,” says the producer, who asks not to be identified because he fears jeopardizing his chance of landing work. “I want out of here so bad I don’t even want to engage in the culture. I don’t want to be comfortable because I’m not.”
The man and his family are doing everything they can to maintain a sense of pride, and they are trying desperately to hold onto their former lives. Their 8-year-old son spends four hours on a public bus everyday so he can keep attending school in his former neighborhood. His mother proudly exhibits his honor-roll certificates and gives examples of how smart he is. When the father does get hired for lesser work on films, he’ll ask people to pick him up at a nearby loft residence so he doesn’t have to disclose he’s homeless. For months, his wife avoided contact with a shelter worker she had met years ago because she didn’t want the staff member to know she was homeless. “You’re used to having, and you downsize and you downsize. What do you do when you have nothing left?” says the wife, who used to work as a nurse’s assistant. “The hardest part is, How do you maintain your daily life and keep things intact for the kids and your own sanity, and at the same time move forward?” (See TIME’s video on why Housing First saves homeless lives and public money.)