“What was scary about that place was the men were right there,” says one formerly homeless woman. “They were on one side and we were on the other, where we were sleeping. People hallucinated and some sleep-walked.”
For the 31 percent of the homeless population who are women,
staying in a shelter can be terrifying .
Why don’t the homeless just go to a shelter?
It’s an easy question to ask when you see people sleeping on sidewalks. The short answer — if you are one of the 53,000 homeless in Los Angeles County and 5,000 in Orange County — is that sometimes you can’t.
Sometimes the mesh of private and public efforts that make up the current shelter system is too daunting. Sometimes a shelter can’t admit you because they have too few beds. Or maybe they won’t admit you because of requirements that you can’t or won’t meet — you may not be allowed to bring your pet, or you may have to sleep separately from your partner, or you may have to join a 12-step program.