In the last few months, the Korean community has expressed outrage at the idea of a homeless shelter in the middle of Koreatown without any consent. However, even with the obvious disagreement, Los Angeles mayor Eric Garcetti has pushed forward with his plan to help the homeless by placing a homeless shelter at the intersection of Vermont Ave and 7th Street. The actions were taken without any notice to the residents of Koreatown, which inevitably produced sparks of anger and confusion.
The disagreement comes not in the idea of the homeless shelter, but rather the way the plan will be executed. Jake Jeong, the president of the Wilshire Community Coalition, explicitly stated, “The question is not whether to help the homeless or not or if this is a humanitarian cause. Everyone with any sort of sense is in agreement that the answer to those questions is yes. The real issue now is how we are to help the homeless. Clearly, there was not any clear communication between the city council and the Korean community, which has consequently led to objection and protest.”
The Korean community has also complained about being barred out by the city and being “specifically targeted” by the City Council, especially at the Homeless Workshop held in late May. An announcement was made stating that all were welcome, but on the day of, 3 Korean citizens were denied entry, as the event was supposedly “invitation only”. Furious, the Korean community reacted. Since the day of the Homeless Workshop, there have been multiple organized protests, a petition with over 4500 signatures, and continued building tensions between the Korean community and mayor Eric Garcetti and City Council President Herb Wesson.
As the conflict continues to brew and intensify, one may ask themselves, “As a citizen of the community, what can I do to find alternatives and/or solutions?” Carol Phillips, a senior community worker within the Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health, has answers. “The best thing you can do is keep the City Council and Herb Wesson accountable for all the actions they take. They want to place a homeless shelter in the middle of Koreatown without any consent; fine. But [the Korean community] needs to make sure that the shelter will be able to be used to its full potential and tend to all the homeless people living on the streets in the 10th District.”
It is clear that many shelters have turned into disasters, such as Skid Row. The city of Los Angeles cannot continue its trend of homeless failures. The city must unite and cooperate and act upon the urgent issue. The question is not whether or not to help; the question will always remain how. And until the city and the Korean community come to an agreement on how to move forward, the tensions will only rise and the problem will not get solved.
Daniel Joon Kim, Grade 12
Crescenta Valley High School