LA Resident Goes on Hunger Strike to Fight Homelessness

While people can see Lent as a time to consider fasting something of importance in their lives, it's usually something simple like red meat or social media. Most people probably wouldn't go to extremes such as food in general. For the sake of raising awareness for Los Angeles' homelessness epidemic, Kaleb Havens decided that he wouldn't be most people. The Los Angeles Times wrote a piece detailing Havens's endeavor to raise homelessness awareness in the city.

The 30 year old Catholic worker decided to fight homelessness in his city by conducting a hunger strike for Lent. Havens chained himself to a gate on 5th and Central in the city and hung signs demanding housing for the thousands of people walking the streets of the city with no place to call home. One sign indicated his 46-day hunger strike while the other said, "This building could house hundreds" as it pointed to the complex next to Havens. Accompanying Havens is a clipboard of petitions that people could sign asking that the city do something.

As Havens starves himself to combat homelessness, the wheels of bureaucracy at City Hall roll slowly while the problem grows exponentially. The article cites the city government's underachieving response stretching back years as a major factor in why the crisis has not subsided. City Councilman Mike Bonin wrote in a public email that he pushed the Los Angeles Housing Services Authority to assemble a strategy to get the city's homeless off the streets but the agency has no plan let alone any initiative to execute currently.

Even genuine efforts to combat the epidemic such as four housing developments by the nonprofit Step Up for Second has been stagnated by the city's incapability to approve the project. Kicked back because of minor administrative issues, the project's reworked submission was lost in a black hole of procedures and red tape. Even Matt Szabo, deputy chief of staff to Mayor Eric Garcetti, was confused as to why Step Up for Second's project was denied.

While the city continues to sort itself out of the project approvals, Havens continues his hunger strike. A donation of a lounge chair saved the protester from dealing with rats as he sleeps in skid row. It remains to be seen how much of an effect Havens will have on the city's response but Havens is ready to last six more weeks without food.

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