Growing up, my mother and I relied a lot on community support. As the child of a farm worker, I saw my mom work in the fields earning $4 per hour and having trouble putting food on the table. Thankfully, our community was always there to support us. Strangers who became family friends shared their food, gave us rides (as undocumented people could not legally drive then), and even helped my mom fill out forms because she didn't speak English. I grew up in a community that taught me from an early age what it means to be there for each other and how to make everyone feel at home.
When I moved to Los Angeles and saw the number of unhoused people living on the streets, I knew it was time to put my values into practice. I learned about KtownForAll, an all-volunteer mutual aid group in Koreatown, one of the densest neighborhoods in the city. Koreatown has one of the highest per capita unhoused rates in the entire city.
Together with KtownForAll volunteers, I help care for unhoused people. Every Saturday, we go out and provide essential supplies like baby wipes, masks, blankets, tents, tarps, and food. During heat waves, we drop off frozen water bottles at encampments, and during fires, we're out distributing masks. No matter what the conditions are, we are always out there checking in on unhoused people. And at the same, we advocate for unhoused people at rallies, public hearings, and by speaking to our representatives. None of us are professionals but we know what it takes to be there for each other and help each other out.
As a volunteer, I've seen firsthand the horrible consequences of rent increases and rising cost of living have done to working class people. I hear the same stories week after week of people who have faced hurdles like hospitalization, ageing out of foster care, domestic violence, and job loss that led them to losing their houses. I also hear people talk about how long they have been on the waitlist for public housing support and Section 8 voucher waiting lists. Some have been waiting for decades. There are simply not enough vouchers or units, and people lucky enough to get vouchers quickly find out that landlords don’t want to accept vouchers. Some pass away on the streets before ever hearing back from any of those long waiting lists. This is unacceptable.
Many people may not know but the largest growing demographic of people becoming unhoused are seniors. Seventy-five percent of seniors struggle to pay rent and could be in danger of becoming unhoused in L.A. Many are on fixed incomes relying on programs like Social Security or Social Security Disability payments to survive. Sadly, these fixed incomes have not been able to keep up with ballooning rent increases, leading a lot of seniors to end up on the streets. Angelenos deserve better.
We need every eligible Angeleno to vote YES on Measure ULA by Election Day, November 8. Measure ULA will protect all Angelenos by:
- immediately buying, building, and preserving affordable housing;
- providing emergency financial support to low-income seniors, people with disabilities, and individuals at risk of losing their housing due to falling behind on rent;
- investing in vital tenant protections, including legal representation for individuals facing evictions; and
- programming that informs people of their legal rights.
The City of L.A. has more than 42,000 unhoused people living on the streets. We need to pass Measure ULA now. This measure taxes the sale of properties valued at $5 million or more to fund desperately needed affordable housing and renter protections.
The solution to the housing crisis is a "housing first" policy approach, where people have access to decent and safe housing as an immediate and first response. Other supports and services like nonemergency medical attention and resources should follow. Measure ULA would bring us one step closer to providing housing to Angelenos.
We need to vote YES on Measure ULA now.