Jeff Page has been around the block. In his younger days, the South Central native shadowed two generations of hip-hop pioneers as Rodney-O and Joe Cooley’s hype man and DJ Quik’s assistant. He moved to Skid Row in 2006 and never left, launching a career of sorts as an activist for the unhoused. An Associated Press reporter dubbed him the community’s mayor in 2009 and the nickname stuck. Page has served on the Downtown Los Angeles Neighborhood Council’s board of directors, California’s Office of Health Equity Advisory Committee and today leads the effort to form an independent neighborhood council that Skid Row can call its own. A special election in 2017 to establish the council narrowly failed following dubious electioneering by local property owners, but the campaign (and subsequent lawsuit) continues. We asked Page to offer thoughts on solutions to resolve the homelessness crisis for good. He responded with a screed against the system as it currently exists. Read that knowledge below. — Tosten Burks
It MUST be understood that shelter is nothing more than indoor homelessness. I am opposed to significant amounts of new funding being funneled into shelters because shelters only provide temporary beds. What are the options after new shelter beds expire? Significant amounts of Measure HHH funding have been reallocated from permanent supportive housing to various types of shelter housing under the guise of being a “faster” solution. Measure HHH was originally billed as funding the construction of 10,000 new permanent supportive units. A 2018 report from the city administrator’s office projected the final number will be around 6,000. Those of us on Skid Row’s front lines are confident that even this number will be downgraded again.
Unfortunately, when HHH’s 10 years of funding ends, the homeless numbers, which show no signs of slowing down, will be greater than prior to HHH’s passing. Also unfortunate is that 10 years from now, all the current politicians, who voters trusted to accomplish the mission, will be long gone, thereby leaving all the blame, chaos, confusion and finger-pointing to a new crop of politicians who will all point fingers at their predecessors. The new politicians will then ask voters to approve an entirely new multi-billion dollar tax to “end homelessness” and this entire game will be played all over again.
Politicians sign off on “solutions,” non-profit organizations support the politicians and legitimize the “solutions” to the public, developers build the “solutions,” the mainstream media promote all involved parties as they celebrate the “solutions,” law enforcement agencies enforce the “solutions” and criminalize homeless people thereby generating data that justify the need for the “solutions,” and on and on. I call these entities “poverty pimps” because they are sharing BILLIONS of taxpayer dollars among themselves and their allies. If they truly ended homelessness, they would also end their homeless money schemes. That’s not gonna happen anytime soon!
We the People must be made aware of all the schemes, scams and marketing fluff being pushed down our collective throats in a variety of subconscious programming methods.
It is my firm belief that all new solutions are needed to properly address homelessness, including MUCH-NEEDED oversight, transparency, and accountability that simply do not exist anywhere in the current process. The current method consists of formalities and justifications without any opportunity for true public input, political will to “get it right,” or sense of urgency to truly help those in need: homeless individuals and families. What is the priority? To whom can we turn to change the entire system? How long will it take the masses to generate true understanding of what’s going on and not going on? How long will it be before homeless people can begin to see and feel the help and housing, with keys to apartment doors, for which they’ve been waiting DECADES?
Unfortunately, when one understands the true parameters of homelessness, there is no appropriate way to answer the question of a “solution,” which frustrates the hell out of me. At the same time, it motivates me to keep fighting for complete change!