The squalor on the streets of Los Angeles has worsened to epidemic proportions in recent years while California officials vie for a long-lasting solution. Furthermore, drug addiction and mental health issues run rampant among women, men, and children from all different walks of life. The despair is visible in hot spots like Skid Row and Venice Beach. People are left suffering on the streets, facing threats of assault and wondering when their next meal will be.
The last homeless count showed more than 41,000 homeless people living on the streets in the city of LA. Countywide there are more than 69,000 unsheltered. Many believe these numbers to be grossly underreported.
Nearly 2,000 homeless people died in the county during the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic, an increase of 56% from the previous year. Authorities found that this was driven mainly by drug addiction and overdoses.
The pandemic exacerbated the issue, officials found. Widespread distribution of fentanyl on the streets continues to be a fatal end for many. Methamphetamine was involved in the majority of deaths, at 75%, roughly the same as the previous year. But the involvement of fentanyl in overdose deaths nearly doubled to 45%.
Despite the fear of COVID-19 contributing to a higher death rate among the homeless population during the pandemic, it was not the main cause of death among California’s unhoused. However, due to the safety precautions taken by officials to mitigate the spread of the virus, many of the state’s homeless were cut off from proper treatment and care.
There is still Hope: Recovery Is possible
September is National Recovery Month, and while the above statistics may be discouraging at times, you should never lose hope. The truth is, people can and do recover from drug addiction. Research on the science of addiction and the treatment of substance abuse disorders has led to a number of data-driven methods that have helped people stop using drugs so they may resume productive lives—also known as being in recovery.
Similar to other chronic illnesses such as heart disease or diabetes, treatment for substance abuse typically isn’t a “cure”, it’s something to be managed successfully. Seeking treatment, staying plugged into community, developing discipline and structure, and implementing other healthy strategies ensures one a higher likelihood of successfully counteracting addiction’s negative impact on the brain. This, in turn, results in better chances of sustained recovery and a happy life.
God Works all things for His good
Our Lord Jesus Christ, who is sovereign over all, is not a God who wants to see his children suffer. He can, however, use any suffering for good. Christians are called to be the “salt” of the Earth. In living out the light of Christ, we must help those in need who are often on the margins of society.
The transformation from homelessness and drug addiction to becoming a contributing member in society is best achieved when paired with spiritual healing, too. Our nature, regardless of housing status, needs a savior.
“If among you, one of your brothers should become poor, in any of your towns within your land that the Lord your God is giving you, you shall not harden your heart or shut your hand against your poor brother, but you shall open your hand to him and lend him sufficient for his need, whatever it may be.” Deuteronomy 15:7-8
How the Dream Center can help
This is what we aim to achieve at Dream Center through our transitional housing programs with everyone who walks through our doors. We aim to be that safe haven where inner renewal can be fostered and identity restored.
In our transitional housing programs, we can serve up to 555 people at a time in a variety of areas:
- Trauma and drug addiction recovery
- Restored relationships
- Identity in Christ
- Life skills
- Educational and vocational training
If you would like to assist those who come into our program seeking a new direction, please consider donating here. If you are interested in volunteering, please email firstname.lastname@example.org to serve with us as we walk alongside vulnerable souls seeking renewal and safety.