Monday - Day 1
We set out to serve a meal at the food kitchen of Union Rescue Mission. We were running a few minutes early, so we drove up and down the streets of Skid Row. I thought we had entered a Third-World country. Up and down the sidewalks are tents. Some are camping tents, some are tarps in the shape of a tent. The garbage was spread out all around as if it had been searched through multiple times. One corner must have been the bike shop because broken bicycles and parts were piled high. It seemed like miles of tents, a tent city. It had been raining that week, and it was overcast that morning, which added to the dreariness of the sight. (The photo to the right doesn't do it justice, please check the video below.) Skid Row is about 50 square blocks or 0.4 square miles.
We entered the Union Rescue Mission and stopped at the Security desk to get directions to the kitchen. Just as overwhelming as the tents was the sheer numbers of people. The tents were big enough to house multiple people. There were people up and down the sidewalks, and as we entered URM, there were lots of people waiting for services. Later on our tour, we were told there were 800 beds at URM, and they put out extra cots as needed for emergency shelter, which brought their total to around 1300 people staying there. In all of LA there are about 47,000 people experiencing homelessness (though other numbers put it much higher than that, I guess it depends on how/who you count), about 2,500 of those live in the skid row area.
That day, was a special day because In-n-Out Burger had donated the meal: cheeseburger (freshly cooked on sight) and potato chips. Along with that we served salads, fruit, pastries, and Gatorade to drink. The guests saw it as a real treat.