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November 30, 2006

Skid Row Blues

In every city, there’s always that place you drive 10 blocks out of your way to avoid. In Los Angeles, that place stretches from Third to Seventh Street in Central City East, also known as “skid row.”

LA Times reporter Steve Lopez hit this American Third World last year, only to find himself oddly mesmerized by the squalor and hopelessness that define the streets roughly 10,000 people call “home.” He witnessed a 25-year-old drug addict he described as “young and old at the same time” squirm in agony hours before she died from an overdose. He interviewed a woman named T.J. who ran a brothel from a row of port-a-potties. And not too long after, he met an up-and-coming RN who rents a classy loft in a sky-rise overlooking the same streets where T.J. runs her “business.”

The story (and the irony) is always the same—squalor, addiction, and gentrification all thrown together in America’s melting pot of urban (for lack of a better word) “yuck.” It’s just worse on skid row.

After Mr. Lopez completed his five-part series, he followed up with an editorial and a command—“Now fix it.”

Frequently these exhortations fall on tired ears. We have volunteered countless times in our soup kitchens. We have tutored inner city children. We gone on missions trips to the ghetto. We HAVE tried to “fix it” and skid row still exists. What’s the point, after all?

But Christ’s call was not to grow weary in trying to fix every skid row, but to put our hand to contributing to a small part of the hope right around the corner. Let’s not grow weary in doing good, for one day there will be no more "skid row blues."

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