by Brad Young
8:00 AM Workers arrive to continue construction of the multi-million dollar “Amazon Experience” for Comic-Con. The immense colorful tents and towers rise above the high security fence on a parking lot near the convention center. Around the perimeter, taking up an entire city block, black clad security keep people at bay twenty-four seven. NOBODY is allowed to sleep or loiter on the surrounding sidewalk. Across the street, multiple tents and filthy makeshift shelters dot the sidewalk as tourists and residents weave around them.
10:00 AM At the Civic Center, government workers, Councilmembers, and the mayor discuss, argue, and attend to city business (including homeless issues) in the same building as 200 sheltered family members sleeping in bunk beds.
1:00 PM Parades and festivals attract thousands with sand castle contests, art shows, music, food, and the promise of a good time. As the day ends and people head home or to hotels, many others begin the search for a secure place to spend the night... outside.
8:30 PM Once again the Gaslamp Quarter is packed with tourists from around the globe here for the SoCal experience. Restaurants, galleries, shops fill with customers, while music from one of many venues provides the soundtrack. A block or two past what must be the agreed upon “demarcation line,” people sleep on bike paths, patios, and sidewalks. The lucky ones have a tarp or sleeping bag (many from TACO), the rest have only the cold pavement as their companion.
The stories continue… a homeless veteran with American flags on his cart wishing everyone a Happy Fourth… A young LGBTQ person kicked out of the home and with nowhere to go (40 percent of all homeless youth are LGBTQ)… A senior citizen sleeping in a doorway, their hand resting on the wheelchair, to keep it from being stolen.
They are all human beings, and many end up at the Third Avenue Charitable Organization. I thank the Lord we are there to welcome them.