Homeless Parade in Los Angeles, CA, USA FWD

Tom Boland (wgcp@earthlink.net)
Sun, 25 Apr 1999 11:31:21 -0700 (PDT)

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FWD  Associated Press - Saturday, April 24, 1999


     Cynthia L. Webb, Associated Press Writer

LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Dozens of activists and homeless people marched through
the city's Skid Row area under cloudy skies Saturday to support an effort
to help get people off the streets.

Homeless activist Ted Hayes led the procession on rollerskates waving a
giant American flag, his flag-print pants providing a splash of color to a
drab downtown block lined with industrial buildings and graffiti at the
``Parade for the Homeless.'' A high school marching band accompanied the

As the procession took place, a homeless man walked alone with his dog a
few blocks away and a woman laid curled on a piece of cardboard --
apparently unaware of the event held on their behalf.

Arthur Lee Thompson, 48, sat atop a milk crate as the group filed past him
and nodded approvingly.

``It lifts up the spirit,'' said Thompson, who lived on the streets here
for almost seven years before welfare gave him a boost.

He has lived in a nearby government-subsidized apartment complex for the
last 1 1/2 years, paying $66 a month for a room while doing maintenance
work for the city.

The parade makes homeless people ``aware that people out there love them
and want to help them,'' Thompson said.

There are about 65,000 homeless people in city limits and an estimated
200,000 throughout the sprawling county, according to Hayes.

Though the gathering was small, Hayes said the message is still an
important one. He helped organize the event to push a proposal to eradicate
homelessness nationwide.

Hayes believes that a White House-supported ``National Homeless Plan'' to
organize support services -- including employment efforts, health care and
affordable housing -- could get people off the streets within 10 years.

The Los Angeles City Council and county Board of Supervisors are reviewing
the proposal, and it has also been submitted to the federal government for
review, he said.

Community activist Ron Lamount, who also helped plan the parade, joined a
group of volunteers serving food to homeless people on a basketball court.

`We hoped to get more people out,'' he said, ``but every little bit helps.''


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