Los Angeles nonprofit workers passed out boxes of government-funded crystal meth pipes to the homeless population living on Skid Row, allegedly assuming it helps prevent fatal drug overdoses.
Bodycam footage reported by local media shows workers from the Homeless Health Care Los Angeles nonprofit organization distributing the drug paraphernalia while driving around the neighborhood in a golf cart, which witnesses said only enables addicts.
“If you walk down Skid Row and see the people that are on methamphetamine … and got sores all over their body, their teeth falling out, bumps all over their face, running down the street butt naked, that’s no safety,” Tony Anthony, resident, told Fox 11 Los Angeles. “They don’t need to be coming down here passing out these glass pipes.”
The news outlet reported that the nonprofit’s executive director turned down an interview and has yet to issue a statement.
However, in a phone interview, the director allegedly said, “free meth pipes is a safety issue and part of a harm-reduction program similar to handing out clean needles.”
The Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority estimated 69,144 homeless people lived in Los Angeles County in 2022. Skid Row’s homeless population recently increased by 13%, according to a study conducted by the RAND Corp., which was reported earlier this year by ABC7 Los Angeles.
Andy Bales, President and CEO of Union Rescue Mission, discredited the nonprofit’s method to the outlet, saying that enabling people to stay in addiction could lead to death.
“Their philosophy is that people are free to do whatever they want, and that it’s a system in doing it in a safe way,” Bales said. “Well, there is no safe way to use a deadly substance. There is no safe supply of deadly fentanyl when even a little spec of it can cause you to have an overdose death.”
Public tax records reported by Fox News show that the nonprofit received $5.7 million in government funding in 2016. Three years later, the organization’s budget increased to $11.9 million. The nonprofit reported a total revenue of $12.4 million that same year, of which $7.2 million went toward the organization’s salaries and benefits.
The Epoch Times reported earlier this year that officials spent $6.5 billion trying to solve the county’s homelessness crisis as the population increased by nearly 70,000 from its 2011 total of 39,000.
Former Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva told the outlet that nonprofit organizations receive county funding toward solving the crisis without clear guidelines on how officials can spend the money — describing what many have called the Homeless Industrial Complex.
At the same time, county officials have created policies — like open drug use without consequences — that invite people nationwide to live on the streets of Los Angeles.
“There’s a perception in the entire nation—that if you’re homeless, and you’d like to use drugs, go to L.A.,” he said. “You’re enabling the dependency and normalizing the deviancy. That is a very poor predictor for the future of L.A.”
Methamphetamine overdose deaths between 2015 to 2019 for people ages 18 to 64 nearly tripled in the U.S., per a study by the National Institute on Drug Abuse reported by the news outlet.
The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health recorded last year that approximately 36% of some 2,000 transient deaths were caused by drug overdoses between April 2020 and March 2021.