A new video report by KOMO News on the homeless crisis in Los Angeles highlights what addiction specialist Dr. Drew Pinsky describes as conditions not seen since the Middle Ages. The number of homeless has exploded in the area, up 16% in one year, now topping 36,000 in L.A. and 59,000 in L.A. County. The result has been a humanitarian crisis and the proliferation of serious diseases, as the city fails to take action to protect residents.
"Tuberculosis is exploding, nontuberculous mycobacteria, and then the rat-borne illnesses, plague and typhus. We had typhoid fever last week," Pinsky says in exasperation, explaining that means that we have "oral and fecal contamination, so that's going to mean parasites and cholera" (video below).
The bubonic plague, responsible for over 25 million deaths over a five-year span in the 1300s, is likely already present in these homeless encampments, Dr. Drew warns. "Everything you found in your history books, we've got it, it's coming," he says.
That plague can be rapidly spread by the million or so rats that have now exploded in the area. That "army of rats," KOMO News reports, have infested City Hall and the LAPD station in downtown L.A., which was recently fined for rodent infestation, while two employees were infected with typhus. Officers have been diagnosed with typhoid fever, hepatitis-A, and staph.
Skid Row, where thousands of homeless line the streets, "has been in L.A. for a long time, but not like this," KOMO News reports. "Never like this."
"People get beaten, women get raped. It's just a brutal environment," says Andy Bales, CEO of the Union Rescue Mission, which is dedicated to helping the homeless in the area. Bales notes that there's 1,000 sex offenders currently on the streets.
"This is like a petri dish for disease," he says. While providing water to the homeless, Bales contracted staph, E. coli and strep, losing his leg in the process.
The disastrous situation has devolved despite the city throwing $620 million at the problem.
President of the Coalition to Preserve L.A. Jill Stewart blasts city officials for paying lip service to the problem but failing to act. Her group, she warns, is about to begin issuing press releases every day calling out the incompetence of the mayor and city council.
In one particularly eye-opening moment, KOMO News illustrates that the problem all comes down to the law. One side of an underpass that falls under Culver City, which bans homeless from camping out on the sidewalk, is pristine, while the other side, overseen by Los Angeles, is packed with homeless tents and trash.
Watch the report below: