What’s it like to experience homelessness in LA?

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Across LA County, a growing number of people are living in shelters, tents, cars or RVs, and out on the street. Los Angeles County officials estimate that about 58,000 people are homeless, 11,000 more than last year. The homelessness numbers have increased across every age group, with the biggest rise among 18-24 year olds.

Here are some of their stories.

Christopher Dennis

Christopher Dennis says he can make $100 a day posing for photos with tourists.  “I’m sleeping.. on the table of a picnic bench. I sleep on top of my costume, sometimes I sleep with it on.”

Marina Henderson

Marina Henderson and her children at a shelter in Westwood. Henderson is a student at Los Angeles Trade-Technical College. A recent study commissioned by the Los Angeles Community College District found one in every five students in the district is homeless.  “If I decide right now that I don’t want to go to school no more and get a full time job making minimum wage, we’re still going to be struggling five years from now, ten years from now. We’re never going to get anywhere. So I have to go to school.”

Sarah Ramirez

Sarah Ramirez lives with her mom and two brothers in an RV in Venice.  “Technically it’s an RV but we call it home.”

Monte Williams

Monte Williams served in the Marines before becoming homeless. He’s now off the streets and living in a permanent supportive housing complex on the VA’s West Los Angeles Campus. Nearly five thousand veterans are homeless in Los Angeles.   “My idea of homelessness was a alcoholic, drunk, neighborhood drunk and I would never have thought that would have been me. I was actually worse. And that happened as a result of things that happened in the military.”

Victoria Montes (not pictured)

“I love this place because this is where I learned how to hustle, this is where I learned to survive.”