Saving “Throwaway Kids.” How One L.A. detective is helping teens escape the streets and a life of prostitution
Just a few blocks east of the gleaming glass office buildings and new lofts of downtown Los Angeles, the streets make an abrupt change from vegan bakeries and Starbucks to sidewalks lined with trash, shopping carts stuffed with belongings and people sleeping in tents. This is Skid Row, where 2,000 homeless take up a 54-block radius, forming what is the largest homeless encampment in the United States.
It’s a warm summer evening in July, and Lt. Andre Dawson of the Los Angeles Police Department is steering his blacked-out SUV across South Los Angeles Street. Skid Row is an emblem of L.A.’s notorious designation as the nation’s unsheltered homeless capital: the city has 82,000 homeless on any given night, and most people don’t realize that up to one in eight of the homeless are unaccompanied minors, according to the Institute for the Study of Homelessness and Poverty at the Weingart Center.