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Without a Home

L.A. Times columnist Steve Lopez roams Greater Los Angeles with Times photographer Francine Orr and videographer Albert Lee and describes a scene of despair among the homeless.

They're part of the Los Angeles streetscape, as familiar as the swaying palm trees and idling traffic, living under freeways, alongside riverbeds and on canyon hillsides. The mentally ill, the drug addicts, the economically disadvantaged, many with their life belongings in a backpack or shopping cart. In this ongoing series, Without a Home, The Times is examining the crisis of homelessness in our region.

Hidden in L.A. suburbia, wrenching poverty preys on children and destroys dreams

Around Telfair Elementary School in Pacoima, many homeless children live indoors rather than outside. And for one family, motel hopping is no temporary setback. It's life.

For the principal with the most homeless students in L.A., the reality of poverty is personal

Jose Razo is principal at Telfair Elementary School in Pacoima, the L.A. Unified campus that has more students classified as homeless than any other. For him, teaching these kids is personal, because years ago, he lived as so many of them do today.

Whether home is a van, a motel or a garage, L.A.’s suburban poor children learn to survive

Beyond the tree-shaded comforts of suburban living, L.A. residents by the thousands live in motels, vehicles, shelters and 400-square-foot garages. Teachers at Telfair Elementary School say families living in garages is more common now.

For children trapped in poverty, breaking free is getting harder

Schools such as Telfair Elementary in Pacoima lack resources and lag behind the district and state averages in student performance. But as educators work long hours to provide more support, students may find it harder to break free from poverty.

Across a diverse landscape, L.A’s hidden homeless live hard lives in fanciful ‘homes’

When people think of homelessness in Los Angeles, they think of people splayed out on the street on skid row. That exists but there's also a multitude of hidden and sometimes ingenious ways that homeless people in L.A. County create shelter for themselves.

Homeless people at almost every L.A. landmark illustrates the depth of the problem

Where do you take visitors in L.A.? Wherever you go, you’re sure to encounter the homeless. They are fixtures at almost every landmark, blending into the architecture and landscape that defines the urban expanse.

Many people work hard to avoid the homeless. These volunteers embrace them

Meet six people doing their best to help with Southern California’ seemingly intractable homeless crisis.

As waves of homeless descend onto trains, L.A. tries a new strategy: social workers on the subway

Metro has hired outreach workers who try to house the homeless who sleep on the subway. The agency says its hope is that spending $1.2 million on helping homeless people, instead of ticketing them, may make a difference in the long run.

'Castaways' in motor homes feel stranded on society's fringe

Recreational vehicles and campers are the only homes thousands of people can afford in Los Angeles. Their presence is rarely welcome. “Sometimes I feel like we’re worse than homeless," says one.

The homeless in L.A. are not who you think they are

High rents, few vacancies, stagnant incomes and a patchy government safety net — this is why Los Angeles is the facing an unprecedented homeless crisis.

Los Angeles’ homelessness crisis is a national disgrace

It is neither desirable nor morally acceptable to blithely tolerate a level of destitution more commonly associated with Calcutta or Sao Paolo.

Huge increase in arrests of homeless in L.A. — but mostly for minor offenses

Many arrests are for unpaid tickets, a Times analysis finds. Police say arrests are a necessary tool, while homeless advocates see a revolving door of debt and jail stays.

L.A.'s homelessness surged 75% in six years. Here's why the crisis has been decades in the making

A succession of mayors have tried different fixes since homelessness emerged as a crisis in the 1980s, but if the problem continues to climb at current rates, it will swamp even the best efforts.

L.A. homeless crisis grows despite political promises, many speeches and millions of dollars. How do we fix this?

Voters have approved billions of dollars to build housing and provide services. But so far, the impact on the streets has been negligible.

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