The Los Angeles Times is largely a shell of its former self, part of an overall downturn in the quantity and quality of newspapers. However, the paper is developing quite a niche in reporting on homelessness (which I guess makes sense because Los Angeles is home to more homeless persons than any other city in the nation). Thankfully, these columns tend to not focus on the negative, but rather uncover the personal stories of people struggling against the odds to overcome homelessness and poverty.
The most familiar of these stories is the extensive reporting by Steve Lopez on Skid Row and his friendship with Nathaniel Ayers, which resulted in “The Soloist” book and movie. Other recent stories may not be as well-known but are just as compelling.
Esmeralda Bermudez wrote about Khadijah Williams, an 18 year old who has long been homeless but is going to Harvard this year. Sandy Banks has written about Eddie Dotson, a man who created his own home in tight spaces near LA freeways and who was reconnected with his children through the columns. Banks’ most recent column highlights how Dotson “captured a community,” and she makes the important point that overcoming the odds wasn’t just a matter of personal will. Each of these special people received help from someone.
We should be inspired by these personal stories of triumph, while remembering that it is up to us to make sure that all the Nathaniels, Khadijahs, and Eddies out there have the opportunity experience similar victories.