In recent years tents and sprawling encampments have become a fixture in many neighborhoods throughout Los Angeles. In response, a program called "A Bridge Home" was created to build temporary shelters on land already owned or in use by the city. The plan calls for temporary shelters to be built in every district to provide services and housing while permanent housing solutions are being constructed. The first shelter, located across the street from Union Station was approved and opened with little public resistance but a second proposed shelter in Koreatown encountered fierce opposition from local business owners. A series of well publicized protests against the construction of the shelter made headlines this summer and drew attention to the challenges ahead.
Koreatown in particular has become a prime real estate market in a very short amount of time, a process that has contributed to the explosion in homelessness throughout this part of the city. On the blocks where gentrification is most concentrated, almost all affordable housing has been torn down and replaced with luxury apartments or condos. Many renters who remain are being forced out of their homes onto the streets, contributing to the need for the shelter so many protested against.
Due to the intense and organized local backlash the city decided to relocate the shelter to the tennis courts at the Lafayette Recreation center, located at edge of Koreatown. While viewed by some as a victory for the community, the issues in the neighborhood surrounding the original site remain unaddressed. The sight of tents lining streets against a backdrop of newly constructed luxury housing is indicative of the increasing inequality spreading throughout the country as a whole. The temporary shelters being proposed are nowhere near enough to solve the problem but inaction is not an option. Only a sustained commitment to the construction of new and affordable housing has any chance of making a difference.
Kwasi Boyd-Bouldin is a Los Angeles based photographer whose work focuses on documenting life in the urban environment.