Get Up On This with Jensen Karp: Nithya Raman

Nithya Raman

Get Up On This with Jensen Karp: Nithya Raman

Every Wednesday morning Jensen Karp gets us up on something new

February 12, 2020

Every Thursday morning Jensen brings our attention to something that we may not know about yet or something we may have overlooked in the past.

Now it's time to "Get Up On This."

Every week we have Dr. Drew on to talk about various health ailments and the several preventative steps we can take. For years we’ve also joked about his obsession with the homeless problem, but we now know he was just correct predicting an upcoming issue. Now, the homeless populations are no longer located in just Skid Row, Hollywood or at the beaches. We see tent cities everywhere. So Jensen wanted to get up on what regular everyday people can do to help. To help explain what we can do, Jensen brought in a special In-Studio guest, Nithya Raman.

Nithya Raman is a Harvard and M.I.T. trained City Planner who, if you ask us, is way too smart to be hanging out in our studio. In the past couple of years, Raman has dedicated herself to trying to fix the problem of homelessness. In 2014, Raman worked at Los Angeles City Hall and saw firsthand the number of people experiencing homelessness grow. In just a few years the numbers have gone from 23,000 people in 2014 to 36,000 in 2020.

While working at L.A. City Hall, one of the things that Raman saw was that departments were not working together to end homelessness. She also noticed that money and resources were not being put towards programs, services, and housing that could effectively get people off of the streets permanently. Instead, they were being used on enforcement and putting homeless people in jail. We learned quickly that putting homeless people in jail does not solve the problem because jails are not a permanent home.

After writing her report for the city of Los Angeles, she left city hall and continued to see the number of homeless people rise. She attributes part of that increase to the cost of housing over the last decade and the fact that they’re also dealing with domestic violence, drug addiction, mental illness, and other issues. Ten years ago these were people who could still live somewhere. They were paying lower rents and landlords were more forgiving if they might’ve had a personal crisis that affected their ability to pay rent. Now, a lot of people are one check away from potentially experiencing homelessness.

Kevin asked if it is helpful to give money directly to a person and this is where we started finding out what we could do to help. Raman answered that it’s a personal choice, but added that giving out other alternatives could be just as helpful, such as carrying certain items in your car like socks, beanies, snack bars, and personal hygiene products for women. Raman herself has personally handed out water bottles, breakfast bars, hardboiled eggs, bananas, and other fruits. She also encouraged getting to know homeless people in your local area by name and finding out what obstacles they are facing to get off the streets.

There are programs where people can make food and hand it out to people on the street, but what Raman would encourage people in L.A. to do is connect with programs that are actually trying to get people off the streets on a longer-term basis. People who are homeless find it difficult to get the outreach and the case management they need. Connect to programs that are creating systems through which people can actually repeatedly makes contact with case managers and actually move through the process and make progress.

Here are a few services that she recommended by name:

Raman helped to found a group called SELAH Neighborhood Homeless Coalition. It serves a large portion of the city that stretches from Los Feliz all the way down to Cypress Park.

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LA City Council is quickly trying to pass an ordinance which will make it nearly impossible to sit or sleep on most LA streets. This is a dangerous move by our elected officials and we cannot let it move forward. There are about 9,702 shelter beds in the city of Los Angeles, a mere third of what is needed for the number of people without housing. And while permanent housing and plentiful services are the longterm solutions to homelessness, we are not building fast enough to keep up with the need. We passed Measure HHH three years ago and none of the units are available for occupancy. That's zero out of 10,000 units originally planned. Link to how you can help in our bio. #accesscenter#selah#selahnhc #volunteer#shelter #lamc41.18 #sleepingban #sittingban #cityordinance #advocacy #homelessness#homelessnessawareness#losangeles#silverlake#atwatervillage#losfeliz#echopark#greatercypresspark#glassellpark#friends#community #neighbors#losangeles #humanrights#sweeps#stopcriminalizinghomelessness#devastatedbysweeps#encampments #suffering#echoparkrising #echopark

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North Hollywood that has a drop-in center that is doing a lot of really exciting work called The NoHo Home Alliance.

St. Joseph’s Center is also doing great work.

To get the help and correct assistance to get off the streets to live a normal life may seem unobtainable, but with the great work that some of these places are doing - it is a possibility. Rather than curse the darkness, we could shine a light to help the homeless problem currently going on. Get involved in your own community, donate time, money, or any other resource that you may have to contribute because when it's applied to the correct resources, it can help, and it can work.