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When poverty attacks: women on Skid Row

Silvia Hernandez  |  Issue: March 2017
Silvia Hernandez

Silvia Hernandez


LOS ANGELES, CA — “One in three homeless people in Los Angeles County are women. … The total of more than 14,000 women is a 55% increase from 2013. The number of women camped out in RVs, tents, and lean-tos has doubled in the last three years,” reports the Los Angeles Times on October 28, 2016.

When poverty attacks, it affects all groups of society. I never thought we’d have to talk about women. It’s hurtful. Homelessness leaves women with high risks. Unfortunately, you’re more vulnerable. When I became homeless, I experienced discrimination in the way I was treated compared with men. I saw so much pain and despair. I saw women experiencing homelessness, barefoot and naked. Harassed by the police, I was told to “backoff” when I challenged their harsher treatment of women.

After experiencing this, I paid more attention and was determined to speak for those who couldn’t speak for themselves. I met the Los Angeles Community Action Network through a showing of the Vagina Monologues. This is the language I wanted to speak. There’s a lot of strength in the community, a lot of experienced people in the Skid Row community. We know the issues because we’ve been there: experiencing drama and violence, experiencing living on the streets. This is not only addiction or mental illness. The Downtown Women’s Action Coalition (DWAC), the organization I belong to, tells public officials these are the issues.

We need resources to make the leap to a better life. What is going on? This isn’t right, it feels like genocide. People should never be on the streets. Cure the illness of poverty. You and I are making the revolution by talking. These are the steps we need to make the change. We need to create this consciousness, particularly after the presidential elections.

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