Behind the Rose-Tinted Lenses

I’m from a small hometown. The kind of small where if you want to do something fun, you visit Target, find something to eat, or just have a house party. Before I moved to college in LA county, I had always dreaded my time in my hometown for the sake of it being a plain, old boring place to grow up in. I am from Santa Maria, California, or as most of you would better know it, an hour north of Santa Barbara and an hour south of San Luis Obispo.

Santa Maria, California as shown above

Santa Maria was that “middle place” where everything fun and exciting was about an hour-ish away. I was so ready to move out and away from that place and find a place that felt like it reflected my future, hopes, and desires. I applied to many colleges and eventually landed on Cal State Northridge as the right place for me due to it having a good journalism program. Being so close to Los Angeles also motivated me, it sounded so inspiring! The city where dreams come true for anyone and everyone. However, as the months and years rolled on, it began to lose its charm way too quickly.

Something that quickly struck me was the amount of homelessness in the county. All that is ever advertised in this city is how lush and glamourous it is…but they fail to mention it is only glamorous for the top percent. Neglect begins to show its face when you see all of the streets filled with tents and how this city is failing its citizens. Especially during Covid-19, you can see the exponential growth of homeless citizens rise. According to Bloomberg City Lab, 45% more people were experiencing homelessness in 2020 than in 2016. A link to this informative article is below. As a journalist, I am dedicated o telling people’s stories how they want it told. I want to learn more on the issue of the rise of homelessness in LA, and the solutions that are currently being formed. Most importantly, I want their voices and opinions to be heard. I have done some journalism work specifically in Skid Row, a place that I thought was too crazy to exist until I saw it. Giving out Narcan, water bottles, and granola bars was the best the average generous folk and nurses could do. I often think, “How can so many people be neglected by their government and their city?

Donating Narcan and essentials on Skid Row

I think a great way to induce change is through the power of social media. Awareness in and of itself is such a great way to capture people’s attention. When I think of social media, my mind goes to voices being heard. This can be seen everywhere, from the #MeToo Movement to Black lives Matter, people want to listen. I believe the use of social media and journalism combined can help create change for this city’s homeless.

Link to Bloomberg City lab Article:

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/features/2021-08-09/as-homelessness-surges-venice-beach-debates-solutions

CSUN Photojournalism student with a passion for telling stories through photos