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Assignement #5 (Revised)

Assignement #5 (Revised) - Tony Jercinovich Writing 140...

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Tony Jercinovich Writing 140, Section #90247 Anupa Srinivasan 11/22/05 Assignment #5 Social Problems: Leaving Behind the Black and White Driving through downtown Los Angeles, one would be hard pressed to travel more than a few blocks without seeing a frail figure pushing a shopping cart full of their belongings, sleeping under a tattered blanket on the sidewalk, or ambling up to cars at stoplights and asking for some spare change. These men and women are part of the large homeless population of Los Angeles, home of the infamous “Skid Row.” Although homelessness is a glaring problem throughout the nation, I was not fully aware of it before moving to Los Angeles. My experiences here, along with some of the readings, discussions, and movies that make up Social Problems, have helped me not only to more fully appreciate the scope of the homeless problem but also to empathize with those who are homeless. Growing up in the town of Fallbrook, California, with a population of approximately 40,000, I was somewhat ignorant of homelessness. Although I was quite aware of the existence of homeless people, they were never present in my everyday life and so I failed to appreciate the magnitude of the problem. Even though a number of wealthy families lived in Fallbrook, it was not a particularly affluent town, yet low housing costs and a ready supply of jobs meant that even the most destitute could afford at least a small apartment or trailer home. Circumstances allowed for even the most impoverished segments of the community to scrape by with a decent standard of living, thus leading to an absence of the beggars and street peddlers seen in large cities like Los
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Angeles. My only encounters with homeless people occurred when I made trips to San Diego for Padre and Charger games, yet even these interactions were unusual as the city has a relatively small homeless population of roughly 4,500 (Regional Homeless Profile). The fact that I rarely saw, much less interacted with, any homeless people, led me to the false assumption that homelessness was an affliction that plagued only a handful of large cities rather than a nationwide epidemic. Partially because I lacked direct experience with the homeless and also because I never heard anything to the contrary, I formerly believed that homelessness was primarily a personal problem rather than a social one. Although I never considered my childhood as sheltered, in retrospect it would be difficult to argue otherwise. As a child of a middle class family residing in a town like Fallbrook, I was rarely exposed to the ugly aspects of life. As a result, I began to believe that the homeless were culpable for their situation because they were lazy or simply did not want to have a real job.
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