Skid Row: Not By Bread Alone

The homeless on LA’s Skid Row are in desperate straits, but giving them more food will not solve their problems

Editor’s Note (World Magazine): This article includes disturbing and graphic descriptions of homeless life in LA’s Skid Row.

On a warm Friday afternoon in downtown Los Angeles’ Skid Row, the acrid stench of fresh-spilled blood stung the congealed odors of fossilized urine and unwashed feet. A man whom locals call Turban stabbed three individuals, leaving a half-mile trail of blood and screams until police officers shot at him six times.


Ronald Troy Collins heard the shrieks from the store he manages at the corner where Turban stabbed his first victim—then his second, and then the third (all, including Turban, survived). Collins knows Turban as the guy who sells cigarettes on the streets, relatively harmless until the day he smoked spice, a synthetic marijuana that regularly sends people to emergency rooms. As sirens blared and the police swarmed over in cars, bicycles, and helicopters, Collins prayed, “Oh Lord, help him, help them, help us.”

Such savagery doesn’t surprise Collins, who calls it “another normal-day event in Skid Row.” It only made news because the police shot a man. As someone who’s lived homeless sporadically for 35 years and is still homeless, the 50-year-old Collins has witnessed a multitude of base acts in Skid Row: that deranged, reeking man with an unzipped fly who harasses women with his exposed crotch; drug sale transactions right outside of drug-rehab facilities; spontaneous combustions of shrill arguments and brutal fistfights; public urination and defecation; sex between men and men, women and women, even some bestiality. “There are no rules or regulations down here, nothing! A modern-day Sodom and Gomorrah, pretty much.”

I’ve also heard locals refer to this 11,000-resident territory as “Devil’s Den,” “man-made hell,” and “where people go to die.” If LA is the homeless capital of America (see “Homeless on the streets of LA,” April 1) , Skid Row serves as its junkyard, collecting the rusting heap of issues that encompass the city’s homelessness crisis…. READ FULL STORY AT WORLD MAGAZINE

TLA skid row

Photo: Edward Padgett

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