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We Are Not Ok: Photos From Skid Row Los Angeles

Ave Pildas | United States

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Between 3,000 and 6,000 homeless people convene on the streets of Los Angeles’ Skid Row each night. The city tops the nation with an estimated 58,000 chronically homeless people, so tent cities are common sites under freeway overpasses and along streets in neighborhoods rich and poor. 

On July 4, 2016, a national day of celebration, I drove to Skid Row to document this dire situation. To serve as a backdrop, I hung a large American flag upside down. The upside down flag is a symbol of distress. 

One of my first volunteer subjects was dressed in a flag bikini. I gave her a dollar after I photographed her. She quickly reappeared with a bullhorn and announced that I was offering a dollar to each person willing to pose. Soon a line formed around the block. Over the course of one hour, I gave away $100 and shot four hundred pictures. The images reveal a cross section of Skid Row residents of all ages and races: kids playing, proud vets boasting of their service, couples idling, fathers and sons conversing, etc.

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