The latest video by popular man-on-the-street interviewer Austen Fletcher efficiently captures the alarming homeless situation in the city of Los Angeles, particularly the infamous “Skid Row,” wherein reside thousands of homeless people — most of whom are either suffering severe psychological problems or substance addiction, and among whom hundreds of sexual predators roam.
The 4-minute video, which Fletcher (also known as Fleccas) says he filmed in just one hour, is presented as a final look at the area he’s moving out of because of the rapidly deteriorating situation. In the area, he explains, there’s been a 50% increase in homelessness since 2012 (the number of homeless now topping 36,000 in L.A. and 59,000 in L.A. County). As his video shows, the situation poses a very real health threat to residents. Because of the rampant drug use, filth, and rats, disease is proliferating in the area.
The video begins with Fleccas and his cameraman driving up to the heart of Skid Row. Lining the sidewalks are tents, human waste, and trash, including hypodermic needles.
The camera captures a half-dressed woman standing amid trash attempting to bathe herself in a stream of water from a fire hydrant. The sidewalks and streets are strewn with garbage — bags, bottles, discarded shoes, and heroin needles.
When Fletcher asks one of the residents, who is sitting in a torn tent, if he can interview her, another woman throws an empty bottle at him.
One person who agrees to give an interview is a man who works for a group attempting to bring relief to the area. Asked why things are so “crazy” in Skid Row, the man replies, “Why’s it so crazy out here? Because everybody’s on drugs.” The next shot shows multiple needles lying amid yet more trash.
Asked why the city allows all of these people to live out on the streets, the man says, “The city, they keep saying they’re going to build more houses and more houses, but it’s taking too long. And then you’ve got more people that are coming from other cities, and they’re coming to downtown Los Angeles because of the resources they hear about but that is so slow.”
“So there are a lot of resources being advertised, but in the end there’s not much to go around,” says Fletcher.
“There are less toilets in Skid Row than there are in the Syrian refugee camps,” notes Fleccas, the camera focusing on human excrement in the street. The homeless, he explains, just relieve themselves on the side of road.
Another person who is willing to talk to Fletcher is an emaciated woman who tells him that she is about to start her 12 Steps, and that she is HIV positive. She tells him she’s been in the area since 1985, having come there after escaping her father, who she says molested her for nine years. Asked if she thinks the problem is a resource problem or a mismanagement problem, she says “mismanagement.”
She goes on to describe the diseases she’s seen spreading in the area, while Fleccas notes that people are literally dying the streets by the hundreds there every year.