In the second Gilded Age, the mansions get bigger, and the homeless get closer
THE CAPITAL OF AMERICA’S SECOND GILDED AGE IS LOS ANGELES, WHERE HOMES WORTH TENS OF MILLIONS OF DOLLARS LOOK OUT OVER A CITY IN WHICH THE MIDDLE CLASS STRUGGLES TO AFFORD SHELTER AND THE NUMBER OF HOMELESS INCREASES DAILY.
LOS ANGELES – When she became president of the Beverly Hills/Greater Los Angeles Realtors Association, Robin Greenberg wanted to do something for people who couldn’t afford any home, much less one like hers in the golden hills of Bel Air.
So every month for eight years, she and colleagues went to Skid Row or elsewhere downtown to feed the homeless.
Then, last December, she learned the homeless had come to her.
Before dawn on Dec. 6 a wildfire raced out of a parched ravine in Bel Air, scorching 422 acres, destroying or damaging 18 homes and forcing the evacuation of about 700 others — including Robin Greenberg’s.
Even more shocking than the fire’s damage was its cause: a portable stove at a homeless encampment right there in Bel Air.
Almost half of US families can’t afford basics like rent and food
The economy may be chugging along, but many Americans are still struggling to afford a basic middle class life.
Nearly 51 million households don’t earn enough to afford a monthly budget that includes housing, food, child care, health care, transportation and a cell phone, according to a study released Thursday by the United Way ALICE Project. That’s 43% of households in the United States.
The figure includes the 16.1 million households living in poverty, as well as the 34.7 million families that the United Way has dubbed ALICE — Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed. This group makes less than what’s needed “to survive in the modern economy.”
“Despite seemingly positive economic signs, the ALICE data shows that financial hardship is still a pervasive problem,” said Stephanie Hoopes, the project’s director.