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Skid Row

Posted on Friday, February 17th, 2006.

We recently went to L.A.’s infamous Skid Row at the suggestion of a StoryCorps participant who worked there for many years before retiring. The area occupies a 30 square mile radius in downtown L.A. and is home to the homeless, says Scott Chamberlain (pictured above) who works at Union Rescue Mission — one of the 30 or so homeless shelters located in the heart of Skid Row. About 15,000 people come here on any given night. Some stay in the flophouses, some in the shelters, and many on the streets. Scott told us that the street he’s looking out at fills up with people once the sun sets and that L.A. has the largest homeless population in the country, with about 90,000 people going homeless each night.

We conducted a series of StoryCorps “off-site” interviews with residents and employees of the Union Rescue Mission, which is L.A.’s oldest homeless shelter. A teenage girl told her mom she feels ashamed to let people at school know where she lives. “I tell them I live in L.A.,” she said. Two gentlemen talked about their love of football and their long path to homelessness. In this photo, Loriel Castillo and Chaplain Bridget Wilson get ready for their StoryCorps interview, in which Loriel (the lady in blue) speaks about her dreams of starting a catering business.

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