Op-Ed: Street dreams: The inner life of homelessness

There are more than 12,000 chronically homeless people in Los Angeles, living in third world conditions next door to expensive restaurants and first-class accommodations. Most of us turn away when we pass them in the street; we pretend they don’t exist.

On Sundays, when the city is quiet, I talk to military veterans, drug addicts and those who are simply too poor to afford housing. I ask them what they desire, what they dream about, what they hope for the future. In my art work, I try to capture this inner life.

I met Birdman under a bridge in Silver Lake, where he’d lived for 20 years. I built him a living room, and then people began to ask to take his picture. Within a week, he shaved and cut his hair for the first time in a decade. Soon after that, he went to a non-profit to get help. Now he lives in supportive housing.

But I’m not a social worker or a drug counselor. I’m an artist who wants people to see their community as it really is.


Skid Robot is a guerilla artist from Los Angeles. You can find his work at, or his Instagram feed @skidrobot or around skid row.

“Birdman” (Under the 101 Freeway at Alvarado Street, Silver Lake)

(Photo, concept and art direction by Skid Robot.)

“J.W.” (under the 4th Street Bridge, Arts District)

(Photo by Khristian D. Berrio. Concept and art direction by Skid Robot.)

“Kiki and Tyrone” (5th Street and Crocker Street, Skid Row)

(Photo by Michael Jaffe. Concept and art direction by Skid Robot.)

“Thanksgiving 2014" (4th Street and Alameda Street, Arts District)

(Photo by Aaron Bridges. Concept and art direction by Skid Robot.)

See more of Skid Robot’s work here.

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